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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Full-time faculty contracts to expire in June

Photo by Evan Levine
The Sky Bridge on campus.

At the end of June, contracts for the 111 current full-faculty employees are set to expire. As the spring semester nears the end, faculty are making preparations for the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA). 


Marion Dixon, an associate professor in the department of literature, culture and society and chair of the full-time faculty committee, said the faculty hopes to finalize their proposal to administration and management by the end of May.


“We really wanted to get as ahead on this as possible, so we’ve already been through two surveys gauging faculty’s concerns and hopes for this next CBA,” Dixon said. “We’ve also gotten interest to start earlier from administration.”


Dixon said volunteer faculty members are split into several working groups focusing on elements such as language for the CBA, compensation and tenure track. These groups work together to finalize the proposal and present it to the entire faculty. A vote will then take place to move onto presenting in front of administration and management.


“Some key points this time around are continuing to improve faculty working conditions like salary benefits, shared governance and improving the tenure track,” Dixon said. “These are much more narrow and specific pitches…we would really like [the university] to understand that we are a strong unit and want them to come into negotiations with a neutral opinion.”


Dixon said the several administrative changes over the last few years have been “generally good” for faculty.


“We basically have an entire new set of administration going into these negotiations,” Dixon said. “But we feel good…last time the university hired an outside lawyer, and this time it is the university’s personal lawyer. We all relatively know one another.”


This upcoming contract will be only the third in the history of the Point Park full-time faculty union, which is directly associated with the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh TNG-CWA Local 38061. This union also represents the Post-Gazette workers currently on strike. 


The CBA establishes the terms of employment for 111 full-time faculty members and covers—but is not limited to—policies for tenure, benefits, retirement and terminations. In the current CBA, faculty are not allowed to strike or hold walk-outs or solidarity strikes. If there are any disputes involving the CBA, both the university and the union will have a third party step in and make a decision, a legal process known as arbitration.


“Point Park is committed to arriving at a contract with full-time faculty that is fair to all parties and maintains our shared focus on student experience and academic excellence,” Lou Corsaro, director of public relations, said to The Globe in an email statement. “Out of respect for the process, university leadership will keep negotiations on a new contract at the bargaining table.”


The first CBA signed in 2018, the full-time faculty union has said, was approved and ratified after around 40 sessions that stretched over 17 months. The second CBA took 25 bargaining sessions over five months from June to November of 2021, going past the expiration date of June 30, 2021. This was allowed, as it is stated in the CBA that it is legal as long as ongoing negotiations are taking place and that working conditions remain the same. 


In February of 2021, 17 non-tenured faculty members have recently received letters of non-renewal from the university, which were redacted leading into the second CBA negotiations. 


It will take a simple majority, or 50 percent plus one, of the full-time faculty voting for the new CBA for it to become ratified. If, for any reason, not enough faculty members vote for the new CBA, negotiators for both sides will have to go back to the table to try and come up with a new offer.


Dwight Hines, a professor of the literature, culture and society department, served as chair of the faculty committee for three years and oversaw previous negotiations. He said the faculty got the majority of their requests in the last CBA and hopes that this time will be the same.


“This time is very similar; we want to raise the pay for lectures, want more help for non-tenure to join tenure and greater pay raises in line with the cost of living and inflation,” Hines said. “This process would be enhanced if policy was set to meet regularly with administration on our contract outside of monthly faculty assemblies.”


In the current CBA, Provost Michael Soto is required to attend monthly faculty assembly meetings. Hines said faculty rarely meets with Soto outside of these meetings and that they barely meet with President Chris Brussalis.


“There has been a lot of uncertainty with administration,” Hines said. “There was much concern over how short [Don] Green was here…[faculty] numbers have been consistently going down since then.”


For the second CBA negotiations in 2021, there were 117 full-time faculty. Paul Hennigan was university president from 2006 until the spring of 2021, being replaced by Don Green until mid-January of 2023 when Brussalis took over. 


Faculty will have two monthly assembly meetings instead of one in preparation for negotiations. The next faculty assembly is Monday, April 1 at 2:40 p.m.

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