BY PETER N. KIRSTEIN
Loyola University Chicago adjuncts voted January 27 to unionise by a vote of 142-82, They will be represented by the Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.) Local 73. Unlike other Roman Catholic Universities such as Manhattan College, Saint Xavier and Duquesne, the Loyola University administration, while opposing it, used tools of persuasion such as videos, and not coercion. It did not prevent the vote or seek to delay its tabulation by appealing the National Labor Relations Board (N.L.R.B.) assertion of jurisdictional primacy to the courts. There, anti-union sentiment runs rampant such as the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where juridical appeals of the board’s decision are heard.
Frequently when adjuncts seek N.L.R.B. protection, they will rarely attempt to organise all the adjuncts at a post-secondary institution, but certain units which are more amenable. Also those adjuncts that have a purely religious function, are exempt from federal labour law, as enunciated in the Pacific Lutheran case.
One of Loyola’s adjuncts was ebullient according to the Chicago Tribune:
“Our victory today represents a win for our students, faculty and the entire Loyola University community,” Alyson Paige Warren, an adjunct instructor of writing and literature at Loyola, said in a news release. “Now all faculty will have a say in our working conditions and I’m encouraged (by) the gains at other schools across the country.”
While the war on the working class has been present since the founding of the nation, the N.L.R.B.s recent pro-adjunct decisions are not a slam dunk for all faculty. The spectre of N.L.R.B. v Yeshiva is haunting over full-time faculty at private universities. A Seattle based N.L.R.B. official, according to Inside Higher Ed, ruled that Carroll College in Montana did not pass the Pacific Lutheran test for tenured and tenure-track faculty. Faculty can be fired for errant theological behaviour that runs counter to its Catholic mission, but somehow these faculty are considered managers. Seems counterintuitive to me, and a hesitancy on the part of the N.L.R.B. to break completely the chain of oppression of the Supreme Court’s 1980 egregious Yeshiva decision. Liberate adjuncts within their jurisdiction, but not full-time faculty.