Latest information on unionization – 1/10/17

Dear Colleagues,

Happy new year — I hope you had a good winter break and I wish you all the best in 2017.

I write to update you on the latest information I have regarding the activities by Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union to unionize our teaching faculty in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and in the Roski School of Art and Design.

To remind you of the events related to Dornsife: teaching faculty there voted against unionization 12 months ago. SEIU Local 721 did not accept this decision and convinced the NLRB regional office to order a second vote. While the union had argued the need for a second election, it then blocked the second vote on further charges of unfair labor practices — although the union could have allowed the election to proceed while these charges were under consideration. One of the union’s complaints was that I had allegedly threatened faculty governance. In another complaint by the SEIU, the union itself challenged faculty governance by objecting to a report of the Academic Senate’s yearly achievements by then-Senate President Ginger Clark.

The NLRB has now definitively ruled against the union on all Dornsife charges. Among other comments, the NLRB noted that I “highlighted the advantages of shared governance.” And, it said that the Academic Senate’s actions “were in line with the prior practices of the Senate in addressing faculty employment and remuneration, benefits of employment and faculty environment.”

This decision removed the union’s block on the election, allowing a vote to proceed. However, the union has now withdrawn its petition to unionize Dornsife teaching faculty, ending that campaign. There will be no second vote. The Dornsife teaching faculty should continue to work with the Academic Senate, Dornsife Faculty Council, faculty committees, and the administration to advance issues important to the faculty.

At Roski, the teaching faculty voted to be represented by SEIU Local 721. An NLRB panel split 2-1 against hearing USC’s appeal of the union’s certification. The dissenting NLRB member forcefully argued that the majority did not follow the Supreme Court’s Yeshiva University ruling that faculty groups who participate in managing the university are exempt from unionization. There are more legal steps ahead concerning Roski, and the final decision will probably be made by a federal appeals court. We will continue to defend the principle that USC’s research-, teaching-, practice-, and clinical-track faculty can participate in faculty governance alongside their tenured colleagues.

I will keep you updated on these and other issues as the year unfolds.


Michael W. Quick