What could possibly go wrong?

Alexandra Bradbury writes at Labor Notes:

At Last, Private Sector Faculty Get Green Light to Unionize

A new Labor Board ruling could finally unstick the unionization of professors in the private sector—a project that’s been stalled for 35 years.

“People for years have talked about when Obama’s NLRB finally gets stabilized and takes on the three big higher-ed issues,” says longtime contingent faculty activist Joe Berry. “And finally we’ve got a decision on two of them.”

About 1 in 3 higher-education instructors works at a private college or university. But unionization efforts there virtually halted after a 1980 ruling that, because of their role in campus governance, full-time faculty counted as managers.

If the reasoning in NLRB vs. Yeshiva seemed far-fetched then, it’s become even farther-fetched in the 35 years since—something the board acknowledged in its precedent-setting December ruling. It upheld union rights for the faculty at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Seattle who’ve been organizing with Service Employees (SEIU) Local 925.

The decision notes the creeping “corporatization” that’s encroached on university decision-making. It observes that “colleges and universities are increasingly run by administrators, which has the effect of concentrating and centering authority away from the faculty.”

And it sets out new criteria for deciding when full-time faculty will be eligible for the board’s recognition, based on whether the administration really follows faculty recommendations on academics, enrollment, and finances.