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PLU's Adjunct Faculty Members Withdraw Petition To Unionize


Note: PLU holds the license for KPLU, where on-air staff are represented by the union SAG-AFTRA.

Non-tenure track faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University have withdrawn their petition to vote on forming a union. That ends, for now, an election that has dragged on more than a year.

The faculty voted in fall of 2013 but the ballots were quickly impounded when the university challenged the election’s legal basis. PLU argued that as a religious school, it should be exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees collective bargaining rights.

The National Labor Relations Board decided faculty at schools like PLU can organize as long as they don’t have explicitly religious duties.

That allowed the counting to proceed, but the results came back uncertain, with 30 votes in favor of forming a union, 54 against, and 38 challenged ballots. Withdrawing the petition means those contested ballots won’t be counted.

A union statement said it would be quicker and cheaper to pursue a new election than to fight the challenges.

The university, in a statement, said it is "committed to resuming our work to address the concerns of contingent faculty."

"This work had, by law, been on hold while the union effort was underway," said Steven P. Starkovich, PLU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. "Now we can pick up where we left off and get back to solving the issues faced by our contingent faculty."


Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.