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Seattle University administration tells faculty not to unionize

A Seattle University official has notified faculty that the school’s administration opposes ongoing efforts to unionize non-tenured instructors and encouraged faculty to oppose joining a union.

In a letter obtained by Capitol Hill Seattle, Provost Isiaah Crawford recently told SU faculty at the 12th Ave campus that bringing in a union to represent contingent full-time and part-time faculty would negatively impact the university culture by “disrupting the direct relationship between the university and its faculty and the faculty’s governing body.”

Instructor Yancy Hughes Dominick, a full-time adjunct in the Department of Philosophy, told CHS he’s undecided on the union but wants the discussion to continue.

“I was disappointed that (the provost) would end the conversation before it really started, but I was not surprised,” he said.

Hughes Dominick said he and many other faculty members are generally happy with the administration, pay, and benefits at SU. The interest in unionizing stems from the broader issue of year-to-year contracts the school uses for adjunct professors. “It’s hard to be committed to the large project of teaching classes at a university if you don’t know if your going to be teaching or not,” Hughes Dominic said.

Here’s a statement from the faculty about their desire to unionize.

Crawford said he sent the letter when he heard faculty members were being approached by staff from Local 925 of the Service Employees International Union. SEIU is currently working on a national campaign to unionize thousands of adjunct instructors. A union representative contacted by CHS did not respond in time for this post, but we’ll update if and when they do.

In his letter, Crawford also warned that unionizing may impede the school’s religious freedoms as faculty relations would be subject to federal rules.

“SU is an institution that exists to serve its unique Jesuit-Catholic academic mission.  Because of the University’s religious character, we must consider carefully whether the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the federal National Labor Relations Board from exercising jurisdiction over its relations with its faculty,” he writes.

SU wouldn’t be the first school to oppose unions based on religious grounds. The administration at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma is opposing ongoing organizing efforts by SEIU Local 925, partially based on religious grounds.

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