United Steelworkers Win NLRB Appeal at Duquesne

Contact: Jeff Cech - jcech@usw.org, 412-339-4843

PITTSBURGH – The Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers (USW) is delighted by the unanimous decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to deny Duquesne University’s appeal opposing the adjunct faculty’s right to organize a union.

The adjunct faculty in Duquesne’s McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts handily won a union election, with 85% voting in favor of the union over two years ago in July 2012. The administration sought to thwart the attempt at unionization claiming religious exemption.

Regardless of the long delay, the adjunct faculty continues in its overwhelming support for union representation. Clint Benjamin is an instructor in the English Department and an outspoken supporter of the adjunct union.

“Anti-union tricks are common in union organizing, but students, alumni and people in general are always shocked to hear about Duquesne’s maneuvering to avoid treating their workers with respect and dignity,” Benjamin said. “I’m happy that the Labor Board weighed the facts and found in our favor. It’s time for Duquesne to start recognizing the rights of its workers.”

The decision follows a similar case at Pacific Lutheran University which sets forth new guidelines on defining the NLRB’s jurisdiction over religious institutions. Duquesne clearly does not meet the criteria articulated by the Board.

“The adjunct faculty members are not responsible for providing a religious educational environment. They teach their courses with the same materials and in the same fashion as they would at any other university,” said USW Senior Associate General Counsel Dan Kovalik.

The union expects another favorable decision from the regional office of the NLRB in Pittsburgh, at which point they will once again demand that Duquesne begin contract negotiations.

“We’re proud of the adjuncts for sticking together during this drawn-out process, and our union hopes to sit down at the table with Duquesne’s administration to begin bargaining as soon as possible,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “These folks have waited long enough.”

The plight of adjunct faculty garnered international attention upon the death of Margaret Mary Vojtko, a Duquesne adjunct faculty member who passed away shortly after being fired by the administration, following 25 years of loyal service to her students. The EEOC case for age and disability discrimination is still pending.

The Adjunct Faculty Association has been actively organizing at several other campuses around the city of Pittsburgh including Robert Morris University, where an election is scheduled in March, and at Point Park University, where they are currently in contract negotiations.

The Adjunct Faculty Association is organizing faculty in Pittsburgh and elsewhere to unify and empower the people who do the work of higher education. The AFA is affiliated with the United Steelworkers, whose 850,000 members include men and women working in many different industries, including metals, paper and forestry, rubber, manufacturing, energy, health care, pharmacies and pharmaceuticals, civil service, finance, law, transportation and education.

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