In a growing trend, adjunct faculty members at Macalester College and Hamline University recently filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold union elections.

According to the Star Tribune, adjunct faculty members at Macalester filed a petition with the NLRB on April 24, 2014, and their counterparts at Hamline filed a petition the next day, on April 25, 2014. The petitions are part of a broader campaign by an organization called Adjunct Action, which is seeking to unionize adjunct faculty throughout the country.

By filing petitions with the NLRB, the adjunct faculty members have triggered the NLRB election process to determine whether a union will be recognized as the employees’ bargaining representative. According to the NLRB, the median number of days in 2013 between the filing of a petition and a union election being held was 37 days for non-contested cases and 59 days for contested cases. However, new rules proposed by the NLRB aim to significantly decrease the amount of time between the filing of a petition and a union election. If those rules take effect, employers will have less time to respond to any petitions filed with the NLRB.

Takeaway: The petitions recently filed at Macalester and Hamline represent a growing trend in which adjunct faculty members are seeking to unionize. Because the NLRB is currently trying to shorten the union election process, colleges and universities that are concerned about unionization attempts should be proactive in developing strategies to be able to respond quickly when petitions are filed.