ELON — Adjunct faculty at Elon University won another victory this week in their bid to form a union, but the university said it will appeal this decision.
The top official with the National Labor Relations Board regional office in Atlanta ruled Tuesday in favor of Elon’s adjunct faculty. In a 20-page decision, acting regional director Scott Thompson said the Elon University objections “lack merit” and certified the results of the Elon union vote from March.
“We have been ready for this moment since last spring when we voted to unionize,” Sarah Bloesch, an adjunct assistant professor of religious studies, said in a statement put out Thursday by Elon Faculty Forward, the Elon union organizing group.
“Our collective situation of precarity has not changed, our dedication to our students has not changed and our commitment to getting to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract has not changed.”
Adjunct faculty at Elon — full-time and part-time instructors who aren’t tenured or aren’t on track to get tenure — announced last fall that they intended to form a union to seek better pay, job security and other benefits. Elon’s adjuncts want to become the second group of unionized faculty in North Carolina after Duke’s adjuncts created a union in 2016.
On March 12, 62% of the 180 Elon adjuncts who cast valid ballots voted in favor of unionizing. They said they will be represented by the Service Employees International Union, which says its members include about 54,000 faculty at 60 public and private U.S. colleges and universities through its Faculty Forward effort.
Elon University appealed the outcome of the March 12 vote. The university says it will ask the national NLRB office in Washington, D.C., to review this latest ruling.
“Elon is taking this action because important questions related to our unique system of shared governance were not fully evaluated by the Regional Director of the NLRB,” Elon Provost Steven House wrote to faculty on Wednesday. “These questions are especially critical for Elon’s model, which includes an elected, voting representative for part-time faculty members on Academic Council.
“We are deeply concerned that this issue was not adequately addressed at the regional level and the next step in the process allows the university to ask the national office to review our stated concerns.”
In a statement, meanwhile, Elon Faculty Forward “calls on the Elon administration to stop appealing and respect democracy by starting to bargain with the adjunct faculty.”