WEB UPDATE: University will not certify union

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 3:16 p.m. After a narrow vote in favor of part-time professor unionization at GW, administration officials continue to protest the formation of a collective barganing group. They are calling for about 30 more faculty members to cast ballots on the issue before the election can be recognized as legitimate.

On May 6, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that part-time faculty voters approved a union in an October vote, 341 to 331. The board’s decision was thought to have capped eight months of discussions between University officials and union supporters over 50 disputed ballots. GW officials have opposed the formation of a union, though they encouraged all professors eligible to vote to cast ballots. About 1,200 professors were eligible to vote.

The National Labor Relations Board certified the vote over two weeks ago, in a move that – with University certification – would have validated the formation of the Service Employees International Local Union 500 at GW.

But on Wednesday afternoon, University officials told The Hatchet that they believe about 30 more people should’ve been allowed to vote, since two of the ballots cast in the October vote were from faculty members hired by an outside law firm to work at GW.

These two part-time professors were initially excluded from the October vote since GW does not pay their salaries. But the law school adjuncts petitioned the NLRB to participate in the vote, and their ballots were counted. It is not known how they voted.

The University is now calling for all “supplier” employees – those hired by third-party organizations – to be able to voice their preference on an adjunct union.

“We at the University believe strongly that these other individuals should have an equal opportunity to cast their ballots,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president for academic affairs, in a phone interview Wednesday. He was joined by Vice President for Communications Michael Freedman and Tracy Schario, director of media relations.

Even though Lehman emphasized that the University wanted to ensure all eligible part-time professors are able to vote, he said he didn’t know if GW would be calling for the inclusion of “supplier” employees if the vote went the other way.

Schario added that “after much soul searching,” administrators, including University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, “came to the difficult decision that a big group of suppliers were disenfranchised, and that (the October vote) was not a full and fair election.”

In response to recent calls from the SEIU to begin collective bargaining, Lehman said in a statement to part-time faculty Tuesday that the University will not enter into any negotiations with the union at this time.

-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

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