Writing for In These Times, Moshe E. Harvit reports that in a brief filed with the NLRB supporting its opposition to being forced to recognize and negotiate with the union organized by its adjunct faculty, Duquesne University explicitly acknowledged the truthfulness of the adjuncts’ testimony before the NLRB by threatening to terminate them for it.
In the wake of the NLRB’s landmark ruling in the earlier case involving Pacific Lutheran University, the several Duquesne adjuncts were asked if their willingness to directly support the religious mission of Duquesne University was directly involved in their hiring or their teaching. When they testified that it was never even mentioned during the hiring process and that there was never any indication that it should somehow be explicitly incorporated into, nevermind emphasized in, their classroom teaching, the University responded by stating in writing that it would likely be replacing those adjuncts with others who will be more explicitly supportive of its religious mission.
While acknowledging that this statement seems to constitute a ridiculous error in judgment in terms of the legal proceedings, Harvit tries to place it in the context of the manifold ways in which employers have historically attempted to derail unionization through intimidation and termination of union organizers. He also notes, however, that the precarious nature of adjunct faculty work makes it very easy for colleges and universities to employ such tactics without much repercussion.
I think that it is outrageous for the leadership of any college or university to engage in this sort transparently self-serving and unethical abuse of basic logic. But it is especially outrageous for a Catholic institution to engage in it under the guise of preserving its religious mission.
This sort of institutional behavior indicates that at Duquesne, as at too many other colleges and universities, principles are clearly subordinate to power, and “community” does not mean a commitment to the promotion of economic fairness and individual self-worth but, instead, the soft-pedaling of the institutional silencing of concerns about economic injustice and the demonization of individuals with the courage to risk their livelihoods in defense of a righteous principle.
Harvit’s full article is available at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18266/duquesnes_nlrb_filing_reads_as_a_brazen_threat_to_adjunct_union_organizers