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Ten-Year Battle Continues to Determine Whether University Faculty are Managerial Employees

Our firm recently filed a Brief with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the faculty at Point Park University, who overwhelmingly voted to be represented by Local 61 of the Newspaper Writers Guild CWA. This dispute between the Newspaper Writers Guild and Point Park University has been ongoing for ten years. The Local is attempting to gain representation for these underpaid and unrepresented employees who have voted overwhelming to be represented by the Union. Subsequent to the NLRB certifying the Union as representative of these employees, Point Park University appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That Court ordered the NLRB to further define the criteria used to determine whether University faculty are managerial employees.

The central question is the proper criteria in determining whether University professors are managerial employees in the context of the Point Park University workplace. The seminal case on the issue was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court dealing with the faculty of Yeshiva University. In that case the United States Supreme Court concluded “the faculty of Yeshiva University exercises authority which in any other context unquestionably would be managerial”. In doing so it identified certain criteria to support that conclusion. Following that decision, the Labor Board did not undertake its own analysis of what type of authority would make college faculty “managerial employees”. Rather, the Board simply treated the circumstances cited by the Court in Yeshiva as “the criteria for collegial governance” that would cause “faculty to be managerial”. It is Local 61’s position that the Yeshiva Opinion was intended to provide a “starting point only” and the Decision itself states that “other factors … may enter into the analysis”. In essence, our Brief argues that there are many other factors that must be considered in the Point Park case, and in doing so it will be conclusively shown that these individuals are strictly professors and not managerial employees, and deserve the right to be represented by a union.

A number of organizations have filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the University and in support of the Union’s position. We are awaiting the decision from the Labor Board, which we are certain will be appealed once again, and there is a strong likelihood this case may eventually wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. We shall keep our clients posted.


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