National Labor Relations Board Grants St Xavier Request for Review of Pro-Adjunct Union Ruling: And a Little History


St Xavier University lost its bid to prevent the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from asserting jurisdiction in the adjunct-faculty unionization efforts. The university since 1979 has not contested the NLRB from asserting jurisdiction for full-time faculty when it voted for unionisation. Last year SXU did not not attempt to interfere with the NLRB when it conducted an adjunct-faculty election. {The vote was 40 to 54 against collective bargaining and unionisation. I wonder if a pro-union vote this time might result from the university’s determined efforts to interfere with such an effort. Maybe the university should have left well enough alone! In any event, the votes are now impounded pending the disposition of this process.} St Xavier’s argument that it is too religious for inclusion under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 applies apparently only to part-time faculty organising efforts.

Of course the NLRB does not gratuitously troll around and determine the degree to which a university or college is religious. It does so only when by administration challenges  on religious grounds that faculty do not have the right to organise, the NLRB has no standing to protect that right, and that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment immunise St Xavier from allowing adjunct-faculty to collectively bargain salary and other conditions of labour. The NLRB when challenged should not merely capitulate but in the interest of justice and workers’ rights it should assess and challenge, when appropriate, an institution’s resistance to collective bargaining. Once the NLRB rules to either affirm or deny the pro-adjunct faculty decision in Chicago, then presumably the process ends or a petitioner takes the issue into the courts such as the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. St Xavier requested and received approval for a review in the Washington, DC office of the NLRB ruling that the university does not satisfy the “substantial religious character” test.

Employer’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election is granted as it raises substantial issues warranting review.

Dated, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2011. ”

Senator Robert Wagner: Sometimes the National Labor Relations Act is referred to as the Wagner Act.

When the NLRB was created in 1935 there was some reluctance within the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. The American Federation of Labor’s, William Green, was supportive. FDR and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins did not anticipate strong labour support and were originally lukewarm to the legislation. They believed organised labour would not accept a counting of noses before workers could from a union. They would not want the government monitoring elections in which a majority of workers would have to approve prior to workers designating collective-bargaining representatives. Actually the National Labor Relations Act was a compromise between those who wanted no restraints on workers’ efforts to organise and those who did.

Senator Robert Wagner, Democrat of New York, was very persuasive in his fervent support of workers’ rights to organise. Given the recent Supreme Court ruling in the monstrous Schechter case that the National Industrial Recovery Act was unconstitutional, the National Labor Relations Act was essential to replace Section 7 (a), the Magna Carta of the rights of labour. Senator Wagner said that the NLRA was needed to “appeal to the conscience and intelligence of all those who know the history of our country and are imbued with its high ideals.”

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