Adjunct faculty members at Duquesne University have voted, 50-9, to unionize, according to results announced today from a campus election conducted under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board.
Duquesne said it will move to invalidate the election.
Eighty-eight individuals who taught class in the spring and in fall 2011 were deemed eligible to cast ballots, though the results will cover all 125 or so part-time, non-tenure-track faculty within Duquesne's McAnulty College & Graduate School of Liberal Arts.
The voting took place in June, but the votes were impounded as the university pursued an appeal with the NLRB that claimed the board lacked jurisdiction because the university is a church-operated school.
On Friday, the NLRB ordered that the votes be counted since deciding the appeal would be necessary only if the Adjuncts Association of the United Steelworkers achieved the necessary majority vote. The count took place at the board's Pittsburgh offices this afternoon.
Chester Robert, NLRB regional director, confirmed the voting result.
"We're very pleased and very proud of the adjunct faculty association," said Jeff Cech, spokesman for the United Steelworkers. "They did a tremendous job. They showed their support for democracy in the workplace."
Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said, "Duquesne will be refiling the appeal with the NLRB and reasserting that we believe it does not have jurisidictional oversight."
In March, the United Steelworkers announced an organizing drive covering the part-time, nontenure-track faculty. The union listed improving job security, pay levels and working conditions as its goals.
In its appeal, the Catholic university cited a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case, NLRB vs. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, as precedent.
The board, however, rejected the motion, noting that the NLRB first asserted its jurisdiction over Duquesne in 1982 and that the university had not previously challenged it while dealing with other unions. The board also pointed to an agreement Duquesne signed with the Steelworkers to authorize the vote and said there was no justification to withdraw from that pact.
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