Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Duquesne to Take Union Battle to Court Latest Nlrb Ruling Backs Adjunct Faculty

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Duquesne to Take Union Battle to Court Latest Nlrb Ruling Backs Adjunct Faculty

Article excerpt

Duquesne University announced it will take its opposition to an adjunct faculty union on its campus to federal appeals court, calling a new directive by the National Labor Relations Board that it recognize and bargain with the group "unconstitutional."

A three-member NLRB panel in Washington, D.C., issued the order Wednesday, again siding with the agency's regional office in a bitterly contested five-plus-year case pitting issues of worker rights against an institution's religious identity. As such, the dispute has garnered national attention.

It stems from a 2012 vote by faculty in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts to form an association that is part of the United Steelworkers. Previous NLRB rulings have sided with the right of those faculty to organize.

Duquesne has argued - thus far unsuccessfully - that the NLRB lacks jurisdiction over Duquesne, given its religious mission as a Catholic institution. It has previously signaled intent to seek legal relief if needed, but Duquesne president Ken Gormley in an email formally notified the campus this week that the case is headed to court.

"You may recall that in prior correspondence, the next steps in the process were outlined, including that the University would defend its rights in court if necessary," Mr. Gormley wrote in his letter Wednesday. "Regrettably, due to the NLRB's unconstitutional action, the University is filing a Petition for Review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia."

The university confirmed late Thursday that its petition for review has been filed.

Mr. Gormley called the NLRB decision "flawed" and at odds with previous court precedent. He also said the panel lacked a full complement of members, noting that confirmation proceedings are taking place in the U.S. Senate this week regarding a nominee by the Trump administration to fill a seat on the board.

The Steelworkers in a statement Thursday said adjuncts have prevailed against what it called the administration's "union-busting activity" from the campus election to favorable decisions before the NLRB's regional and national headquarters.

The union calls the school's stance hypocritical given the Catholic church's support of labor unions.

"It's simply shameful to see a university administration which carries the banner of the Catholic Church violate the teaching of the very faith they so loudly profess," USW International president Leo W. Gerard said. …

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