NTT Faculty Unionization Campaign Update

November 20, 2023

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Several of you have approached the deans or me seeking to learn more about recent efforts to unionize our non-tenure track (NTT) faculty. Because of broad interest in these activities and the potential impact to our community, this will be the first of several communications. I offer these updates to advance our shared commitment to transparency.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) represents workers, primarily in healthcare, law enforcement, sanitation, and public services. I understand that SEIU Local 721 is exploring whether NTT faculty members wish to be represented by the union. As you may recall, a similar effort occurred in AY 2013-14 but did not result in the formation of a union.

The university’s position remains unchanged: we are pro-employee, not anti-union. We remain committed to our NTT faculty, and the university prefers no union because we believe that direct and candid dialogue is the best way to address needs and concerns. Recent outcomes prove this point because we have made significant progress by working together. NTT faculty are an essential voice in LMU’s shared governance, and I hope that this mode of working together directly continues.

The university will continue conducting labor relations in compliance with the law and in the spirit of our Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount values and mission. The National Labor Relations Act, a federal law that is enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), protects alike the rights of employees to participate in union organization activities or to refrain from such activities.

I have heard that NTT faculty members are being approached on campus, and that they are seeking guidance about these encounters and what comes next. As we learn more about the process, please note:

  • You can choose whether to speak with union representatives: whether you do or do not wish to speak with them, you have the right to inform them of your position. The rights of NTT faculty to participate or not to participate are equally protected under the law.

  • We do not permit representatives of any outside organization, including unions, to interrupt or interfere with our classroom instruction. We will take appropriate actions should such disruptions occur.

  • You may be asked to sign union authorization cards. An authorization card is a statement authorizing the SEIU to act as your exclusive collective bargaining representative in dealing with the employer (LMU) concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of your employment.

  • If the SEIU obtains signed authorization cards from 30% of the NTT faculty, it may file an NLRB petition requesting a secret ballot election. The NLRB will usually then order the secret ballot election and oversee the election process.

  • If the SEIU obtains signed authorization cards from 50% plus one of the NTT faculty, the SEIU may request the university to voluntarily recognize the union without a secret ballot election. In this case, in accordance with NLRB procedures, the university will seek a secret ballot election to determine the results.

  • Prior to the election, there is typically a period during which the employer and union state their positions and address questions and concerns.

  • If the SEIU receives votes from 50% plus one of the NTT faculty in any NLRB-conducted election, then the SEIU will be certified as the collective bargaining representative for all the NTT faculty. For example, if an appropriate bargaining unit includes 25 employees, but only 10 cast a ballot in the election, the union would win the election with only six votes. Therefore, like anything that requires voting, those who show up determine the outcome. That is, no quorum for legitimacy of voting exists.

Ultimately, providing the best educational experience for our students drives our decision-making. As we approach Thanksgiving, I am grateful to all our faculty for making what we do not just possible, but also transformational. I look forward to working with you to continue to make our university a remarkable place to teach, study, and work.

Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost