NLRB will hold hearing on contested ballots in non-tenure eligible faculty union vote at Northwestern
August 18, 2016
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The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing Tuesday to determine the validity of 71 ballots cast in the vote to form a non-tenure eligible faculty union at Northwestern.
With the current accepted vote count at 223 votes for the union and 191 against it, the results of the hearing will determine whether or not a union will be formed, said Daniel Nelson, assistant regional director of the NLRB’s Chicago office.
The results from the initial vote in July were inconclusive because of a number of challenged votes cast by faculty members whose voter eligibility was called into question. Most challenges to election ballots were made by the Service Employees International Union, which has been working with faculty in their effort to unionize and would represent the potential resulting union.
Faculty members are eligible to vote if they are also able to join the potential resulting union, English lecturer Nick Valvo said. He said because faculty members with “substantial managerial power” are unable to unionize, they are ineligible to vote in the election to create a non-tenure eligible faculty union.
Nelson said the hearing process to resolve the challenged votes is not uncommon.
“It happens on occasion,” Nelson said. “It’s just a normal process for resolving eligibility questions.”
During the hearing, representatives from NU and the SEIU will be able to present their cases on whether or not each faculty member should be eligible to vote.
Of the of 490 ballots cast in the initial vote in July, 134 were challenged. Since then, the University and SEIU have resolved 63 of the challenged ballots and redistributed them accordingly, Nelson said.
“Everything right now will be somewhat contingent on the outcome of the 71 challenged ballots,” Nelson said.
The University was responsible for providing the initial list of eligible voters before the election, Valvo said. In addition, faculty members could request ballots if they felt they had been left off the list, he said.
The University spokesman did not return calls for comment by the time of publication.
Faculty Senate president Laurie Zoloth wrote in a statement to The Daily that the Senate supports the faculty and is committed to helping faculty members improve their lives.
“We will support the contingent faculty in any way they democratically vote to
organize themselves,” Zoloth said.