Friday, November 12, 2010

Adjunct Union Says It Should Be Recognized By NLRB At Catholic College

Riverdale, New York's Manhattan College, which holds itself out as a Catholic institution, is in the midst of a fight by its adjunct faculty to unionize.  Inside Higher Ed today reports that the school is invoking the Supreme Court's 1979 decision in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago that held church-operated high schools are not within NLRB jurisdiction. The Court focused on the risk of free exercise infringement involved. Subsequently appellate courts broadly applied the ruling to religious colleges as well.  However, the union is arguing that adjunct faculty unions have no power to change the religious nature of a college, that Manhattan College does not meet the test of a religious institution, and that it is morally wrong for the college to invoke decisions exempting religious institutions from NLRB jurisdiction. On the issue of whether the college is a religious one, its president, Brennan O'Donnell, complained:
[T]he fact that we are a welcoming, pluralistic community is being presented as proof that we cannot be an authentic Catholic college. Questions about the number of brothers in various roles imply that the work of lay faculty, staff, and administrators is negligible in forwarding our mission, and betrays a complete incomprehension of a full generation's hard and faithful work in passing forward the charism of religious orders to lay colleagues.