The NLRB is expected to set a vote for some time in May. However, Seattle University officials say they expect to appeal the decision; the appeal deadline is May 1. Adjuncts, sometimes called contingent faculty, are instructors who are not eligible for tenure at colleges and universities and sometimes restricted to part-time work. They’re usually paid at a lower rate than their tenured counterparts — sometimes significantly so — and receive lesser benefits and little job security.
Seattle University argued that it was exempt from NLRB jurisdiction because it is a religiously-operated institution. An earlier Supreme Court case found that the NLRB, the federal agency that safeguards employees’ rights to organize, could infringe on a school’s First Amendment rights if it were to have jurisdiction over a school.Seattle University also argued that it should be exempt because full-time adjuncts should be classified as managers, because the employees who want to unionize do not represent a “sufficient community of interest” and because the proposed union did not include faulty in the College of Nursing and School of Law. Ronald Hooks, regional director of the NLRB in Seattle, rejected all of those arguments. Among other findings, Hooks wrote that Seattle University “lacks substantial religious character” because it receives no funding from the Catholic Church or Society of Jesus, that only a minority of its students are Catholic and its faculty are subject to no religious requirements.