NLRB Official Orders Count of Adjuncts’ Ballots at Manhattan College

A regional official of the National Labor Relations Board has ordered the tallying of ballots in a union election for Manhattan College’s part-time faculty members. She based her decision on a finding that such instructors do not contribute to the religious environment of the Roman Catholic college enough to be excluded from the board’s jurisdiction for First Amendment reasons.

Karen P. Fernbach, director of the NLRB’s regional office in New York, said in the decision on Wednesday that she had found no evidence that such instructors are expected to advance the college’s religious mission “other than to respect and support it.” As a result, she said, the federal board can assert jurisdiction over the union election there without treading on the college’s religious freedom under the First Amendment.

Ms. Fernbach’s decision is the latest in a wave of NLRB rulings clearing the way for union elections at religious colleges on the basis of new standards outlined by the board last year, in a case involving Pacific Lutheran University. Since that decision, regional NLRB officials have cleared the way for union elections involving adjunct faculty members at Duquesne University and Saint Xavier University.

Wednesday’s decision, involving Manhattan College, clears the way for the counting of union election ballots cast in 2011 but impounded in response to the college’s challenge to the NLRB’s jurisdiction.

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