Wednesday, August 2, 2006

A Tricky Question Concerning Professor Unionization

Pointpark Inside Higher Ed this morning has a report on a recent DC Circuit Court opinion, Point Park College v. NLRB, No. 05-1060 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 1, 2006), which address whether faculty at a small college in Pittsburgh, Point Park College, could form a union.  Ever since the Yeshiva decision from the Supreme Court in 1980, the determination has revolved around how much power professors exercise in the university environment or, put another way, if they are managers not covered by the NLRA. 

The DC Circuit decision takes the NLRB to task for not making the proper findings to determine whether a union of professors was appropriate:

A federal appeals court ruling Tuesday is the latest to consider attempts by faculty unions (or would-be unions) to win the legal right to collective bargaining. The ruling — involving the faculty union at Point Park University — didn’t offer a definitive opinion on whether faculty members at the Pittsburgh institution could unionize.

The three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit criticized the National Labor Relations Board for the way it gave the go-ahead for a union. The appeals court said that while the NLRB official who considered the case offered evidence to show that Point Park faculty members had less authority than those of Yeshiva 25 years ago, he also offered contradictory evidence, and failed to sufficiently explain the NLRB’s rationale. The ruling returns the case to the NLRB, which could offer a more detailed analysis of why a union should be allowed, or could reverse itself.


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