Hopeful news comes to us from Notre Dame de Namur University in California, which has joined Georgetown, Trinity Washington and several other Catholic colleges with faculty unions. Indeed, Notre Dame de Namur marks a special milestone, because the university agreed to bargain with tenured faculty as well as adjuncts. (Tenured faculty are considered management employees and are not protected by the Labor Board.) “In spite of differences that at times feel overwhelming that divide faculty from administration, unionization has for the first time provided a process for faculty and administration to work together constructively to serve our students,” education professor Bob Ferrara reported. One couldn’t find a better advertisement for Catholic Social Teaching on labor and work – a Catholic college and its employees in a mutually respectful bargaining relationship, seeking the common good.
Unfortunately, some other schools (Seattle University, Duquesne, and Manhattan College, to name a few) refuse to recognize the unions chosen by their adjunct faculty, despite Catholic Social Teaching on the rights of workers – and even present their actions as an exercise of religion! Such actions give a poor account of our faith and even risk scandalizing the faithful. If you doubt this, take note of Union Busting for God: Catholic Colleges Invoke “Religious Freedom” to Violate Catholic Teaching appearing in June’s USC Annenberg Religious Dispatches.