A group of adjunct faculty members at Seattle University recently filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the intent of forming a union with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925, according to The Seattle Times.
This is the latest step of an ongoing effort at the Jesuit University to unionize adjuncts.
In response to this burgeoning call for unionization, Provost Isiaah Crawford cited the Catholic institution’s mission as a reason to oppose unionization in a letter posted on the University’s website. “One of the defining attributes of Seattle University is the value we place on our mission,” he wrote. “It unites us in a common purpose to provide students a distinctive and transformative education and serves as a powerful foundation for the sense of community we enjoy.”
While Crawford acknowledged the right to unionize, he warned that “third-party representation” is often is based on “confrontation and distrust and can hinder open dialogue and direct communication.”
Furthermore, he said that he feared that oversight from the National Labor Relations Board “could infringe on our Jesuit tradition and Catholic identity.”
Over the past few years, The Cardinal Newman Society has published several reports on the Jesuit University, such as the news of a seminar on “Trans Liberation and the Carceral State” by a law professor, whom one magazine called “America’s first openly transgender law professor,” and the news that a student group advertised for a position with NARAL Pro-Choice America on its Facebook page.
The Newman Society has consistently spoken out against the NLRB’s unconstitutional attempts to assert oversight of Catholic colleges and universities.
Newman Society President Patrick Reilly authored the report,“The NLRB’s Assault on Religious Freedom,” which chronicles the NLRB’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.
Late last year, Duquesne University reaffirmed its opposition to a union of adjunct professors, citing concerns for the institution’s religious freedom after a regional director of the NLRB ordered Duquesne to hold union elections for its adjunct faculty.
Manhattan College and Saint Xavier University in Chicago also appealed NLRB rulings which argued that they are insufficiently religious to qualify for exemption from the Board’s oversight.
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