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.

Proponents at NDNU urged unionization as they say faculty are some of the lowest paid higher education teachers in the Bay Area. But others noted increased salaries may result in tuition increases and that tenured faculty could lose oversight on influential committees.

Despite initial concern from NDNU President Judith Greig who urged tenured faculty to reconsider in March, the school agreed to the National Labor Relations Board overseeing the election wherein about 85 percent of the full-time faculty voters reportedly favored unionizing.
Both full-time and part-time faculty will join Service Employees International Union, SEIU, Local 1021 and negotiations are expected to involve salaries, working conditions, contracts and more.

“The tenured faculty at Notre Dame de Namur did what no one said was possible — they organized and voted to be part of a union. We know the tenured faculty at NDNU are the first of its kind to organize with SEIU, and perhaps the first tenured faculty to organize with a union in the nation. This has not been done in a private university since 1980, when the courts established precedent limiting working people’s ability and right to organize. Faculty, joined by students, stoop up and fought for this hard-won victory,” SEIU Local 1021 spokesman Carlos Rivera wrote in an email.

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