Division between Tenure and Non-Tenure Track Faculty Important in Union Organizing

All full-time and part-time non-tenure track faculty at the University of Southern California were included in a proposed bargaining unit seeking to be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). While adjunct faculty have been unionizing in droves lately, this nuanced division between tenured and non-tenured faculty is interesting. Here, USC argued unsuccessfully that non-tenured faculty are management personnel and thus excluded from joining a union pursuant to Section 2(11) of the National Labor Relations Act.

According to the NLRB Regional Director of Region 31, “I conclude that the Employer has failed to establish that the full-time and/or part-time non-tenure track faculty…actually or effectively exercise control over decision making pertaining to central policies of the university such that they are aligned with management.” Only time will tell if non-tenured professors (or professors who are spiteful for having been passed over for tenure) seek to unionize at the same alarming rate as adjunct faculty. Further, will non-tenured faculty and adjunct professors band together to form a larger bargaining unit, since as the Teamsters remind us, there is solidarity and strength in numbers?

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.