Monday, July 28, 2014

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Citing Religious Freedom, Seattle University Rejects NLRB’s Authority in Employee Dispute

Seattle University is now the fourth Catholic university rejecting federal government authority over its employee relations, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In an email to employees, Provost Isiaah Crawford reportedly said the Jesuit university would oppose the unionization of adjunct faculty members, because a union would threaten the university’s religious freedom by inviting oversight from the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Adjuncts and some other contingent faculty are being contacted by Local 925 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) about organizing, according to The Chronicle.

Unionization, reportedly wrote Crawford, would “weaken key elements of the shared-governance system we have worked hard to develop and support.”

Since 2011, The Cardinal Newman Society has consistently spoken out against the NLRB’s unconstitutional power grab, trying to assert oversight of Catholic institutions of higher learning. At that time, Society President Patrick Reilly told The Daily Caller, “[T]his is a trend that has been developing over the last decade, and I think it’s emblematic of an increasingly secular culture.”

Reilly authored the Newman Society’s report, “The NLRB’s Assault on Religious Freedom,” which chronicles the labor board’s history of attempts to declare jurisdiction over Catholic schools and colleges. Several federal court rulings and the Supreme Court case NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago have found the agency’s actions to be unconstitutional interference in religious concerns—which necessarily factor into employment decisions and benefits at Catholic schools and colleges—but the NLRB continues to ignore those rulings.

Just last week, Duquesne University reaffirmed its opposition to a union of adjunct professors, citing concerns for the institution’s religious freedom.  Last year Catholic Education Daily reported that a regional director of the NLRB ordered Duquesne to hold union elections for its adjunct faculty.

Duquesne University, Manhattan College, and Saint Xavier University in Chicago are all appealing NLRB rulings that they are insufficiently religious to qualify for exemption from the Board’s oversight.

By contrast, Georgetown University allowed its adjunct faculty to affiliate with the SEIU.

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