On Thursday the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking to represent part-time and full-time non-tenure-track academic appointees teaching at least one credit-bearing course in a degree-granting program at the University. The petition specifically excludes academic appointees at Chicago Booth, the Law School, the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Urban Teacher Education Program, the Graham School, and graduate students whose duties include instruction. Any potential efforts by graduate students to unionize are completely distinct from this petition.
Given that under prevailing law the NLRB may view tenure-track faculty as managerial employees under the National Labor Relations Act, I have asked the University's Vice President and General Counsel to provide guidance on communications about this topic with non-tenure track academic appointees (i.e., those eligible to vote in the union election). You may already be getting questions, so I wanted you to have this information immediately. Please see the memorandum below.
We do not intend this memorandum to imply that faculty may not participate in a dialogue on the issue of unionization. Indeed, as described in detail in the attached document, faculty members have the right to express their opinions regarding union organizing and related subjects but in doing so they should seek to avoid what the NLRB or courts would construe to be threats, interrogation, promises of benefits, or surveillance.
I am sure many of you will have questions related to this unionization effort. I expect to write to you again early next week providing additional information.
Eric D. Isaacs