This afternoon, Point Park University adjuncts took a key step toward organizing a union: presenting a petition to the National Labor Relations Board requesting a union election.
Half of the school's 300-plus adjuncts have signed off on the request to join the union. "We're right at 50 percent," says United Steelworkers organizer Randa Ruge. That's well above the 30-percent threshold required to call for an election.
As City Paper first reported last week, adjuncts are seeking better wages, as well as enhanced job security, office space and other benefits.
Ultimately, the union must win a simple majority of ballots cast. "I'm confident that the vote will be successful," adjunct theater-arts instructor Sharon Brady is quoted saying in a release from the union's Adjunct Faculty Association. "I welcome the potential for positive changes that union representation will bring."
The release says that the election is "likely to be held via mail ballot within the next two months," though an employer does have the right to contest an election, which would result in an NLRB hearing. If the union wins the election, a school may still refuse to bargain with it: Point Park has previously refused to bargain with a union seeking to represent full-time faculty. And although the Steelworkers successfully organized adjuncts at Duquesne University in 2012, the school has refused to recognize the union, citing religious exemptions.
A response from Point Park was not immediately available.