GW concedes defeat in part-time faculty union case

The University announced Wednesday at about 5 p.m. that it would abandon the appeals process and begin the bargaining process with the part-time faculty union.

The news comes less than a week after the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals denied the University’s appeal and left the administration with two options: bargain with the union or petition for another appellate hearing within 45 days. Appeal could have been made to the full Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. A three-judge panel voted unanimously to strike down the University’s appeal last month.

“We have concluded that the University community, including our faculty, staff and, most importantly, our students, would not be well served by further appeals,” said Tracy Schario, director of Media Relations in a statement.

“Therefore, the University will not be requesting further court action in this case,” she said.

This decision brings an end to an almost two-year battle between the administration and supporters of the part-time faculty union.

“Eventually it was going to come to this…it seems to me like it was an inevitability,” said Kip Lornell, an adjunct professor of music and union organizer.

The SEIU Local 500 sent a letter to University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg asking the administration not to appeal again, and in a press release on Wednesday Merle Cuttitta, president of Service Employees International Union Local 500, said she is happy the administration is “now focusing on education, not litigation and beginning negotiations in good faith.”

The case began after the 2004 vote by part-time faculty deciding whether to create a union in conjunction with the SEIU Local 500.

GW contends that nearly 30 independent contractors who were eligible to vote were not aware of the election and therefore appealed the vote in favor of creating a union.

Last December the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act and regulating unionization elections, upheld the election results in a unanimous decision.

By not proceeding with any further legal action, the results of the 2004 election to form a union become, by default, verified by the University, Lornell said.

Schario said that there is no specific timeline in place for the negotiations. Lornell said he expects discussions between the University and the union to be underway by next month but said he was unsure of when a union could be officially formed based on Tuesday’s announcement of a new president for GW.

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