Whether inspired by Catholic social teaching or rulings by the National Labor Relations Board, Catholic colleges and universities will eventually sit down with their adjunct faculty members to negotiate wages and working conditions.
That’s the consensus of union organizers involved in securing collective bargaining rights for adjunct and contingent faculty at religious institutions.
“Catholic social teaching is quite explicit about the importance of labor unions. The church has an obligation to not interfere and to propagate them,” said Robin Sowards. He is a member of the Adjunct Faculty Association, a group formed by Duquesne University faculty and associated with the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh.
Duquesne University, which describes itself as “a Catholic university in the Spiritan tradition,” is one of three Catholic schools that have appealed NLRB decisions to allow adjunct faculty to unionize. The others are Manhattan College in Bronx, N.Y., and St. Xavier University in Chicago. Manhattan was founded by the Lasallian Brothers of the Christian Schools and St. Xavier by the Sisters of Mercy.