Provost Hellige Urges Community to Be Engaged in Union Dialogue

January 14, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

I previously wrote to you last November to discuss the fact that organizers from the Service Employees International Union were on campus attempting to collect signatures on cards to hold a union election for part-time faculty. I want to update you on where that process stands.  I also want to encourage you to be informed and engaged about this process so you can make the best possible decisions for yourself and for our students.

As many of you know, the Service Employees International Union is attempting to organize part-time faculty members at many colleges and universities around the country. Last month, the National Labor Relations Board held a hearing to determine whether or when an election will take place at LMU and who would be included in the “bargaining unit.”  These decisions are before the district office of the board. We will inform you when the board releases its decision.

LMU, as a Catholic University in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions, affirms the Catholic belief that the dignity of each person includes the right to fulfilling and life-sustaining work. Throughout history, the Church and many members of the LMU community have recognized and advocated for the rights of workers to organize in order to secure just working conditions. However, the securing of just working conditions does not necessarily have to come through labor unions.  At LMU, we seek to provide fulfilling work in an environment of mutual dialogue and respect. We want to partner to create excellent working conditions to best educate our students. We have always encouraged faculty and staff, regardless of status, to communicate directly with the University on ways to make our community stronger and we are concerned about any faculty member ceding their individual right to deal directly with us to an outside organization that is unfamiliar with our unique mission, campus culture, and, in all frankness, the enterprise of higher education.

Ultimately, the decision about whether to support the Service Employees International Union, or not, is yours. The issue of union representation is of critical importance to every faculty member, as well as to the University as a whole. We urge you to be informed and engaged. However you may feel about this issue, please make your voice heard and learn as much as you can. To that end, we have established a website at www.conversations.lmu.edu to share with you information about the University, union representation and the collective bargaining process. Also at that website is a secure, anonymous form you can use to submit comments or questions to us. Additionally, starting this week, we are holding a series of informational meetings for part-time faculty. We encourage you to attend.

Please do not sit on the sidelines.  Understand your rights; understand the motives surrounding efforts of the Service Employees International Union.  Be engaged and exercise your right to self-determination.

Sincerely,

Joseph Hellige
Executive Vice President and Provost