Philly’s University of the Arts workers form second union in two years

Professional and non-professional staff voted to form a bargaining unit. Two years ago the UArts teaching faculty unionized its own unit.

Philadelphia University of the Arts

The University of the Arts sits along the Avenue of the Arts in Center City. (University of the Arts/Faceook)

The professional staff of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia has voted to form a union. It is the second union formed at UArts in as many years.

Adjudicated by the National Labor Relations Board, 85% of eligible professional and non-professional staff across all departments at the University of the Arts voted to unionize. The bargaining unit will be part of the United Academics of Philadelphia.

Two years ago, a separate unit of teaching faculty had also unionized under the same organization. The UAP also represents faculty at Arcadia University.

This will be UAP’s first unit of university staff. Staff at other area colleges and universities have unionized – including Temple, Rutgers, and Community College of Philadelphia – under other organizations.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

In a statement, UAP said the UArts bargaining unit wants to push for cost of living pay increases, clearer definitions of workload and promotional procedures, benefits for part-time staff, and to have a voice regarding health, safety, and hiring diversity.

“Over the eight years that I’ve worked at UArts, I’ve seen staff members’ passion for their work and for the university taken advantage of again and again,” Bill Rooney, a visual resources and special collection assistant in the university libraries, said in a statement. “Without any regular raises or cost of living increases for years, it’s no surprise that we have such a high turnover rate.”

University management says it respects the vote.

“We intend to enter into good faith negotiations and work together towards a collective bargaining agreement that best meets the needs of all parties, reflecting mutual compromise,” read a statement issued by the school’s management.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal