The Daily Mash-Up

Thursday, July 27, 2017 This Week's Paper
Pacific Lutheran contingent faculty moving to union vote

In a precedent-setting ruling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejected Pacific Lutheran University’s objections to allowing contingent faculty a vote on forming a union. PLU administration had blocked the efforts of contingent faculty for an election run by the NLRB, on the grounds that the religious affiliation placed it outside the labor board’s jurisdiction.
“This is a great day for all contingent faculty and students at PLU and other universities,” said Steve Lansing, Ph.D, Former Administrator of Region 1 Office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and PLU Alumnus. “It shows that institutions can’t hide behind religious affiliation as an excuse to deny their employees a democratic voice.”
“We’ve been trying to address issues like pay and benefit inequities without any success for a long time. Now that we have the opportunity to form a union, we’ll be able to bargain for fair improvements with PLU from a place of power,” said Glenn Guhr, PLU contingent faculty, Lecturer, Music Department.
“The NLRB ruling is a victory for the PLU community because now we can move forward in improving the quality of our work lives and in turn our teaching,” said Dr. Michael K. Ng, Lecturer in Languages and Literature. “We look forward to forming a union and ensuring that PLU invests in the professions of contingent faculty so we can sustain high educational standards.”
The ruling comes as a growing number of contingents at other universities across the country are organizing in efforts to improve quality education for students. In April, contingent faculty at Georgetown University voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union with SEIU Local 500.
With the NLRB ruling, the door is now open for an election as soon as fall of 2013 after classes resume.
Pacific Lutheran University relies on a large group of highly trained contingents who make up nearly half the total faculty. They include lecturers, senior lecturers, instructors, clinical faculty, visiting faculty and resident faculty. Contingent faculty members earn only a fraction of what tenured professors make teaching the same course load, and their employment is tenuous.