What happens when Catholic Colleges ally with the SEIU?

Anne Hendershott of the Catholic World Report writes:

NLRB Makes Inroads at Catholic Colleges

While many Catholics have been concerned for decades about professors at Catholic colleges denying core Church teachings on theological issues, as well as about disputes over women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, and abortion on Catholic campuses, few Catholic college leaders have been willing to enforce the requirements of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which mandates that Catholic college faculty teach in communio with the Church. Likewise, few episcopal leaders have attempted to assess the application of Ex Corde on the campuses they oversee.

Now, into the void created by decades of inattentiveness to the mission of Catholic higher education has stepped the federal government, through the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB has taken it upon itself to assess whether the employees of several Catholic colleges and universities are actually contributing to the religious mission of these institutions by “performing religious functions.” The NLRB knows that if the faculty actually uphold and advance Catholic teachings, they may be viewed by the courts as performing a religious function.

On January 6, 2015, the NLRB issued a “Certification of Representation” allowing adjunct professors and lecturers at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Last December, adjunct faculty at St. Michael’s College of Vermont voted in favor of joining the SEIU. According to media reports, Jeffrey Ayres, dean of the college, said St. Michael’s administration “remained neutral throughout the process and encouraged all adjuncts to vote.”

Last week, the NLRB ordered its regional officials to reconsider labor disputes involving employees at three Catholic Colleges: Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, St. Xavier University in Chicago, and Seattle University. Adjunct faculty members at the three schools had been denied the ability to unionize because the schools are “religious institutions.” School leaders had attempted to block unionization, claiming such efforts posed a threat to their schools’ religious character. But the NLRB has employed a new standard that will make it much easier for union organizers to demonstrate suitability for unionization.