Union Organizing Efforts Advance for Catholic University Adjunct Faculty

One of the most interesting stories of the year in labor relations at Catholic institutions has been the movement of adjunct faculty to organize in unions. Last month Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University adjunct faculty voted 50 to 9 in favor of forming a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers. Duquesne, like Manhattan College in New York and St. Xavier University in Chicago, has argued to the National Labor Relations Board that as a religious institution it is exempt from regulation under the Wagner Act, which grants the right to organize. Of course, Church social teaching also expressly defends the right to organize, and the adjuncts’ vote makes Duquesne’s position extremely awkward. The university must argue that it is religious enough to merit exemption from labor law but secular enough that it is not bound to honor “the repeated calls issued within the Church's social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum[60], for the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights…” (Duquesne has not responded to requests for comment.)

Meanwhile, a fourth Catholic university – one you have probably heard of! - is witnessing an adjunct faculty organizing effort. Georgetown University adjuncts have established an organizing committee. The instructors are seeking to join SEIU Local 500, which represents adjunct faculty at nearby George Washington University and American University.

Advertisement
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
David Smith
4 years 12 months ago
It's a shame adjunct faculty at Catholic universities are - apparently - treated as badly as elsewhere. The mote in your own eye, Clayton. 
4 years 12 months ago
As Cardinal Dolan might say, we have to pray and work for the UNtenured.
Amy Ho-Ohn
4 years 12 months ago
The effort to unionize adjunct professors is not likely to be successful. Unionization is feasible when labor is scarce and right now the market is flooded with Ph.D.'s in the fields that hire most adjuncts. This column is kind of a classic:

http://chronicle.com/article/Graduate-School-in-the/44846

Adjunct professor is not a profession. You can't earn a living teaching adults things they weren't able to learn in high school. If you have a real job and a lot of spare time, adjunct teaching is an OK way to supplement your income. But if you want to earn a living, tutoring rich people's children for college admissions exams is a lot more lucrative.

On the other hand, unlike universities, rich people usually put a lot of effor into hiring only genuinely capable people.
JOHN SULLIVAN
4 years 12 months ago
#3 Many schools rely on adjuncts to contain costs, just a convenient way to exploit staff who have no recourse because of their status. Adjunct faculty are indeed professionals who, in many instances, work in a profession, and choose to teach part time. ...".teaching adults things that they should have learned in high school" is not relevant to the discussion and frankly sounds very elitist!

Unionization is only "feasible" where there is a limited supply of labor ? Is this a Christian perspective on the rights of workers to collectively advocate for their wages and benefits?
Vince Killoran
4 years 12 months ago
"Adjunct professor is not a profession. You can't earn a living teaching adults things they weren't able to learn in high school."

After many years of hard work unemployed Ph.D.s are left with few options. They are not, by & large, just teaching a class "for fun."  Higher education institutions of all sizes and status use-usually exploit-their labor.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Protestors rally to support Temporary Protected Status near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Around 200,000 Salvadorans and 57,000 Hondurans have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years under Temporary Protected Status. But that status is set to expire in early 2018.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 20, 2017
At the heart of Anne Frank’s life and witness is a hopeful faith in humanity.
Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.October 20, 2017
Forensic police work on the main road in Bidnija, Malta, which leads to Daphne Caruana Galizias house, looking for evidence on the blast that killed the journalist as she was leaving her home, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Caruana Galizia, a harsh critic of Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat, and who reported extensively on corruption on Malta, was killed by a car bomb on Monday. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Rarely does the death of a private citizen elicit a formal letter of condolence from the Pope.
I found my voice in the cries of the ancient psalmist.
Sophia SteinOctober 20, 2017