Unions’ efforts to organize adjunct faculty have been in the spotlight lately and for good reason. The United Steel Workers (USW) and Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spent nearly 10 months bargaining before reaching a tentative agreement. This agreement is the first of what the USW anticipates will be many agreements organizing professors throughout Pittsburgh.
The union has not released specific details of the tentative agreement, but it has indicated that economic factors and job security were two of the primary reasons the professors voted to be represented by the USW. The union also reported that “concerns about basic materials to do the job, basic institutional support” were factors that mobilized the faculty and were discussed at the bargaining table.
This recent contract is a just another feather in the cap for the USW, which has found success at organizing adjunct faculty at private universities throughout the United States. This success is at both religious and non-religious institutions. While religious institutions are generally immune to unionization, case law from the current NLRB holds that most religious colleges and universities are predominantly academic, not religious, and thus lose their immunity.