Students and faculty members walk out at Saint Martin's University
Using the slogan “Give Up Union Busting for Lent,” some faculty members and students at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey plan to walk out of their classes on Ash Wednesday.
In June, members of the private Catholic university’s adjunct and contingent faculty voted to form a union and join Seattle-based Service Employees International Union Local 925. The university filed for a request for review by the National Labor Relations Board.
The one-day walkout is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with a rally in the Quad, between Harned and Cebula halls. It will include lunch and a faculty panel on working women that begins at 11:30 a.m. in the Trautman Student Union Building (also known as the TUB), and a women’s labor march that will begin at 1 p.m. outside the TUB. Off-campus actions are slated for the afternoon.
“Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, observed in many Christian traditions as a season of penance, fasting and self-denial,” stated a news release from SEIU Local 925. “In the spirit of the Lenten season, students and faculty are asking the university to stop spending student tuition money to block the faculty union. Saint Martin’s students and faculty will walk out of classrooms to demand the university begin negotiating with the faculty union.”
The administration requested the NLRB review with support and direction from the university’s Board of Trustees, which includes members of Saint Martin’s Abbey, according to university spokeswoman Genevieve Canceko Chan.
“We are still awaiting a response from the NLRB on this matter,” university President Roy Heynderickx wrote in an email sent Monday to students, faculty and staff members. “During the board meetings held earlier this month, both the board and the Abbey re-affirmed their belief that a direct working relationship between faculty and administration best serves the educational mission of the university.”
Even with the walkout planned, classes and office hours were scheduled to continue as usual on Wednesday, Heynderickx wrote. About 100 faculty members and other union supporters held an hourlong walkout, rally and teach-in in November to protest the university’s decision to file its appeal with the NLRB.