Notre Dame faculty votes to unionize: Professors at private university in Belmont achieve landmark vote

By Samantha Weigel Daily Journal staff

Tenured faculty at Belmont’s Notre Dame de Namur achieved a landmark vote last Wednesday and will become one of the first private Catholic schools in decades to have all of its professors unionized.

The full-time professors forming a collective bargaining group is particularly unique as a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court case known as Yeshiva prohibited unionization amongst tenured faculty with “managerial oversight” at private institutions.

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Full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), in the city of Belmont, voted by 85% to join SEIU 1021 on Wednesday, May 26. These faculty will be joining their PT faculty colleagues that voted to join SEIU 1021 on April 29th.

“This vote by tenured and tenure-track faculty to unionize with SEIU 1021 is historic- the first tenured and tenured-track faculty to organize with SEIU anywhere in the country, and perhaps the first tenured and tenure-track faculty to organize at a private university since 1980. Our faculty, joined by NDNU students, stood up and fought for this hard-won victory,” said Kim Tolley, president of the NDNU faculty senate and one of the leaders of the SEIU 1021 organizing committee.

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NDNU Community Supporters

Stationary Engineers, Local 39


Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice



NDNU Students Support NDNU Faculty


















Why We Are Forming a Union?


"We need to provide the best environment for our students to flourish, and one of the best ways to achieve that is by making our faculty stronger and supported."

                     – Monica Guhamajumdar, Natural Sciences


"University faculties need unions to represent our interests as educators at the bargaining table and to halt the nationwide degradation of our profession.  A union at NDNU will give the FT and PT faculty a powerful voice that will help our university to make informed decisions regarding student learning outcomes and faculty working conditions."

                    – Kristen Edwards, History 


"I want a union because I have no reason to believe that our embarrassingly low pay will improve without the ability to collectively bargain.  We've earned our degrees, we work hard on behalf of our students, and it is time that our commitment be reflected in our compensation."

                        – Bobby Vaughn, Sociology


"As an adjunct, I am looking for job security.  I would like to have an annual contract to reduce my anxiety about whether I will be working or not." 

                      - Paula Chaffee, Psychology


"Higher education has pioneered in the gig economy, and the exploitation of part-time faculty has reached a tipping point.  Deploring its spread is not enough.  We—all faculty—must act first to arrest this development and then to save higher education from corporatization, and we can only do that by organizing."

                          – Stephen Cole


"Unions are the best way to assure a quality product and quality people."

                       – Quincy McCrary



"Together we are stronger and braver than when we are alone and fearful. I married in 1959, moved to California, had three children, stayed home with them for ten years, went to school part-time, bought a house in a nice neighborhood with good schools, had health care, vacation pay and retirement. All made possible by my husband's membership in a trade union."

                      – Lillian Barden


"When I was a public school teacher, I benefitted from the support and protection of the union. So did my husband, who is now a 15-year public school teacher veteran. We experienced first-hand how unions protected us from unfair layoffs, fought for the stipends due to us, and cultivated our professional development. It is the same support that I seek now as a college instructor."

                        – Kelly Vaughn 


"Faculty working conditions are our students' learning conditions. We need to unionize to gain a stronger role in shaping NDNU's direction and priorities. Having a union will allow us to negotiate over workplace issues that affect our ability to be excellent teachers: salaries, benefits, workloads, and the availability of tenure-track positions." 

                       –Kim Tolley

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Notre Dame De Namur University part-time and full-time faculty are forming a Union with SEIU 1021

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