NLRB Inviting Briefs Regarding Religious University and Faculty Member Status

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board is inviting briefs from interested parties on two questions:  whether a religiously-affiliated university is subject to the Board’s jurisdiction, and whether certain university faculty members seeking to be represented by a union are employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act or excluded managerial employees.

The case is Pacific Lutheran University (19-RC-102521).  At this Tacoma, Washington-based university, the Service Employees International Union, Local 925 filed a petition to represent a unit of all non-tenure-eligible contingent faculty who taught a certain number of hours.  The university argues that the Board lacks jurisdiction because the university is a religiously-operated institution that is not subject to the Act, and that certain faculty in the petitioned-for unit are managers.  In its invitation, the Board listed three questions to be addressed concerning jurisdiction, including what test the Board should apply under NLRB v. Catholic Bishop, 440 U.S. 490 (1979), to determine whether self-identified “religiously affiliated educational institutions” are exempt from the Board’s jurisdiction, and what factors the Board should consider in determining the appropriate standard for evaluating jurisdiction under that case.  The Board listed nine questions that the briefs should address concerning the standard under NLRB v. Yeshiva University, 444 U.S. 672 (1980). 

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.  Briefs should be filed with the Board on or before March 28, 2014. 
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