Duquesne University says NLRB shouldn't oversee its labor issues

Debra Erdley
| Friday, June 15, 2012, 1:28 p.m.

Duquesne University said it has filed a motion with the National Labor Relations Board challenging NLRB jurisdiction over the university as a religious institution and its labor affairs. In the motion, Duquesne seeks to withdraw from its agreement to allow the agency to oversee an election by part-time faculty who want to organize under the United Steelworkers. In May, Duquesne officials reached an agreement with the United Steelworkers calling for an NLRB ballot of part-time or so-called adjunct faculty who seek to form a bargaining unit. The agreement called for the NLRB to supervise a mail ballot of prospective members of the bargaining unit, beginning June 22 through July 9. In a press release this morning, Duquesne officials said the school asserts that it qualifies for a religious exemption from the jurisdiction of the NLRB. "Our Catholic identity is at the core of who we are and everything we do as an institution," said Bridget Fare, university spokesperson. "Our mission statement proclaims that Duquesne serves God by serving students. Those words are lived out every day on our campus in very real ways in every part of the university." A union spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. Duquesne, founded and owned by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, said other Catholic universities have filed similar challenges, some of which are under review. The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Lasallian Association of College and University Presidents and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities have joined in filing an amicus brief with the NLRB in support of these challenges to the NLRB's jurisdiction over Catholic institutions.

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