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Labor-Relations Board Invites Input on Jurisdiction Over Religious Colleges

The National Labor Relations board said on Wednesday that it is soliciting briefs on the questions of whether religiously affiliated colleges are subject to the board’s jurisdiction, and whether certain faculty members who are seeking to unionize can be considered managers and therefore denied union representation.

The board’s invitation stems from a case involving Pacific Lutheran University, in Tacoma, Wash., where contingent faculty members have been seeking to form a union. Last June a regional NLRB official ruled that such faculty members could hold a union election. In September the board agreed to review that decision.

The university has argued that, as a religious institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, it is exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction. Several other religious colleges have made similar assertions in cases before the board. Pacific Lutheran also argued that the bargaining unit being organized there contained groups of faculty members who should be excluded because they perform managerial duties.

Briefs filed with the board are due by March 28.

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