Chanting “Give up union busting for Lent!” and other pro-labor messages, about 75 students, faculty members and union supporters participated in a rally Wednesday in the Quad at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
It was part of a daylong walkout organized by members of the Seattle-based Service Employees International Union Local 925, which represents the university’s contingent and adjunct faculty members.
“I’m tired of losing out on quality professors,” Rachel Sullivan, a junior, told The Olympian. “... It affects our education. It affects, like, our scheduling and what classes we can and cannot take. … There needs to be a change, it needs to be addressed and now, not after we all graduate.”
In June, members of the private Catholic university’s adjunct and contingent faculty voted to form a union and join the SEIU. In response, the university filed a request for review by the National Labor Relations Board, stating that it doesn’t believe the NLRB has jurisdiction over a religious institution.
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The proposed bargaining unit would represent about 125 nontenured faculty members.
“They’re not recognizing our choice, our rights to organize ourselves, and to push for the issues that are important to us,” sociology and anthropology professor David Price said during the rally.
When he asked the crowd to say what the union is fighting for, individuals answered “wages,” “job stability,” “health care,” “academic freedom” and “respect.”
SEIU Local 925 held an hourlong walkout in November, and speakers at that rally said they are willing to organize more activities until the university negotiates a contract with the union. Efforts are underway to unionize Saint Martin’s tenured faculty.
Meanwhile, university officials said they’re awaiting a response from the NLRB on the review.
Saint Martin’s Board of Trustees and Saint Martin’s Abbey have “re-affirmed their belief that a direct working relationship between faculty and administration best serves the educational mission of the university,” university president Roy Heynderickx wrote in an email sent Monday to students, faculty and staff members.