Adjunct faculty at Seattle University have voted to unionize. Faculty members cast their ballots two years ago, but counting them had been on hold while the Jesuit university appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, seeking an exemption from the labor board’s jurisdiction on religious grounds.
A panel of the NLRB decided this summer that the votes should be counted. That happened Friday, and the result was 73-63, in favor of representation from the Service Employees International Union.
“To be honest, I’m shocked," said Julie Harms Cannon, who works in the sociology department. "I didn’t think it would happen today. I believe this is actually part of the university mission – something the university should be proud of.”
In a statement, Seattle University said the close vote shows a divergence of opinions on unionization.
“The right to carry out our faith-based education on our terms is paramount to who we are and what we are about," read the statement, in part.
The university says its record with employees compares more favorably than other institutions whose faculty are represented by unions.