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Pacific Lutheran U. Adjuncts Can Move to Unionize, NLRB Official Rules

A regional official of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that contingent faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University are entitled to hold an election in the fall to determine whether a union will represent them in negotiations with the institution, The News Tribune reported.

The university, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, opposed the unionization effort, arguing that, as a religious institution, it was exempt from the labor board’s jurisdiction. Other religious colleges have made similar arguments in cases before the board.

The university also questioned whether the contingent faculty members had enough common interests to be represented by the same union, and said that some groups of faculty members should be excluded from the bargaining unit. But Ronald K. Hooks, director of the NLRB’s regional office in Seattle, rejected the university’s assertions and cleared the way for 176 contingent faculty members to take part in a unionization vote.

A spokeswoman for the university told the newspaper that the institution was moving toward an appeal of the NLRB official’s ruling.

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