Education

Saint Martin’s faculty plan walkout over college’s union opposition

FILE PHOTO: A ceremony at Saint Martin’s flag pavilion in 2014. Non-tenured faculty at the private university voted in June to form a union, and the administration is fighting that effort. Faculty and students are planning to participate in a walkout scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday over the matter.
FILE PHOTO: A ceremony at Saint Martin’s flag pavilion in 2014. Non-tenured faculty at the private university voted in June to form a union, and the administration is fighting that effort. Faculty and students are planning to participate in a walkout scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday over the matter. Staff photographer

Some faculty members and students at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey plan to walkout of their classes Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 29) “to protest the university’s decision to block their faculty union,” according to release issued by Service Employees International Union Local 925.

The walkout is to begin at 1 p.m. and will include pickets and teach-in action at the university’s grand staircase near Old Main, according to the union.

Members of the private Catholic university’s adjunct and contingent faculty voted to form a union and join Seattle-based SEIU 925 last June. The university’s administration filed a request for review by the National Labor Relations Board.

“Now Saint Martin’s University is appealing our right to form a union,” the union’s news release stated. “While their request to appeal is pending review by the NLRB, the administration has decided not to fulfill its legal obligation to negotiate with us.”

University officials don’t believe the NLRB has jurisdiction over a religious institution, spokeswoman Genevieve Canceko Chan said.

She said the university’s request for a review shouldn’t be read as “anti-union.”

“We do want to support our faculty and our adjunct faculty, and we’ve made efforts in the recent past to improve working and pay conditions,” Canceko Chan said. “... We really feel that it is the religious exemption that we are concerned about.”

She said the university hasn’t begun to bargain with the union yet because it’s awaiting the NLRB’s decision.

The proposed bargaining unit would represent about 125 nontenured faculty members.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

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