PITTSBURGH, PA June 5th, 2015
Recently, the University participated in a hearing before the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding the attempt by the United Steelworkers to unionize part-time faculty in our liberal arts college. The University has opposed this effort and has asserted its First Amendment right to be free from an unconstitutional intrusion of government control over it as a religious institution.
Although decades of court rulings support our position, I regret to report that the local office of the NLRB has again chosen to ignore the legal standards established by the United States Supreme Court and the Federal Appeals Court, denying a religious exemption for Duquesne by applying a new test that a divided NLRB developed late last year. The ruling is not surprising, given the Board’s history of applying its own criteria rather than those set by the courts. Yet, even with the divided Board’s new test, we contend that the exercise of NLRB jurisdiction is not appropriate here.
Faculty are the heart of an educational institution, and at Duquesne, all faculty-including adjuncts-have a key role in living out the University’s Catholic Spiritan mission. We cannot allow the NLRB-a secular government agency that seemingly rejects the Catholic, Spiritan identity of Duquesne University and has demonstrated no understanding or commitment to our mission-to stand between the University and its faculty.
We agree with the federal courts that the NLRB should not be determining whether we are religious enough by their own standards, and we intend to appeal the local NLRB’s decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C., and to the United States courts, if necessary.
This is a complex issue and I appreciate the fact that there are honest differences of opinion. I am confident that we can work through them with understanding and good will. Thank you for your continued dedication to Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation’s top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in 10 schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students’ social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne’s commitment to sustainability.
Statement from President Dougherty on the NLRB Decision