On Wednesday, faculty at the University of Pittsburgh voted overwhelmingly to unionize with the United Steelworkers, with 71% of voters casting ballots in favor of a union. The Pitt Faculty Union, which includes 3,355 full-time and part-time faculty across Pitt’s campuses, will be the largest new faculty union certified in over a decade. This is an important victory, and we believe that there are many more to come. A pro-labor NLRB has opened up new possibilities for organizing efforts currently underway at dozens of campuses in our region, and hundreds of universities across the country.
Pitt faculty began organizing in earnest a few years before NYU contract faculty did, and as Inside Higher Ed notes, “the road to unionization was long, even by labor organizing standards. Paul Johnson, an assistant professor of communication who has been on the union organizing committee since 2015, said that even with thousands of members, ‘In order to build a really, truly inclusive and democratic union, you’ve got to talk to basically all of those people.’”
There are a thousand full-time continuing contract faculty at NYU, and a majority have signed up to support our union. We’re beyond eager to move towards our own election, but like Pitt faculty, we know that the key to winning is building a “really, truly inclusive and democratic union”—and we know that most contract faculty who haven’t signed cards are people we haven’t yet talked to. The more people we bring into our union, the more power we have to secure recognition.
The return to in-person instruction has made it easier for us to reach uncontacted colleagues and bring new contract faculty organizers into the field; we will continue to scale up outreach as the semester progresses. To win our union by the end of this academic year, we’ll all need to talk to each other more—about our working lives, and about our goals in coming together to form a union. To learn more and get involved with organizing, please contact us.