A group of adjunct faculty members at Duquesne University voted by a better than 5-to-1 margin to form a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers (USW). The ballots were cast in July, but not counted until late September while the school appealed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision to allow the election. The appeal was rejected.
The 88 members of the Adjunct Faculty Association teach at Duquesne’s McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts.
The school says it will continue its appeal, claiming its religious affiliation exempts it from NLRB oversight. Adjunct instructor Robin Sowards told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
We’re already certified by the federal government and justified by Catholic social teachings, so we intend to start immediately acting to improve our working conditions. We are hopeful that Duquesne’s administration will see this as a sign that immediately negotiating in good faith is the most prudent course of action.
The Catholic Labor Network’s newsletter, Catholic Employer Report, notes that Pope Benedict has reiterated “the repeated calls issued within the Church's social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past.” It asks:
Will the Pittsburgh Catholic University demonstrate its fidelity to Catholic social teaching by promptly recognizing and bargaining with the adjunct association? So far they are refusing.
USW President Leo Gerard says:
The adjunct faculty from Duquesne should proudly celebrate their victory as a triumph of solidarity. We will continue to fight for them in the face of opposition from the administration.