NLRB orders ballots counted in Duquesne representation election
Published: September 20, 2012
PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- The National Labor Relations Board ordered that ballots be counted in a representation election of adjunct faculty members at Spiritan-run Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The order was delivered Sept. 14 by the NLRB in Washington. No date was set to have the ballots opened. The 2-to-1 ruling by the NLRB instructed the board's regional director in Pittsburgh to open and count the ballots, and to let each side know the results. Duquesne had argued against opening the ballots on jurisdictional grounds, asserting a First Amendment right to religious exemption from NLRB jurisdiction in the matter and citing a 1979 Supreme Court ruling in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago. In the Chicago case, the high court said that religious institutions are not required to recognize unions of employees whose work is deemed a part of the church's mission. The decision exempted Catholic parochial schools from NLRB oversight. Regarding Duquesne, the NLRB rejected the university's argument for an exemption, but acknowledged the jurisdictional dispute may need to be revisited if the union, the United Steelworkers of America, gained a majority of the votes. If more adjunct faculty voted against the union, the jurisdictional issue would be moot. About 100 adjunct faculty from the university's McAnulty College and its graduate school of liberal arts organized into the Adjuncts Association. "We are not unmindful of the teachings of the Catholic Church on labor," Duquesne president Charles Dougherty said in a June 22 letter on the issue. "The church continues to support the right of working men and women to organize. Our history of positive relations with our existing unions is evidence of our appreciation of this fact. Nevertheless, we believe that, in the case of faculty who are central to the core of who and what we are, concerns for our religious mission are a higher priority."
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