In May 2012, the National Labor Relations Board invited briefs from interested parties on the question of whether university faculty members seeking to be represented by a union are employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act or excluded managers. In the Point Park University decision, faculty members petitioned for an election and voted in favor of representation by the Communications Workers of America, Local 38061. However, the university challenged the decision to hold the election, claiming that the faculty members were managers and therefore ineligible for union representation.
In its amicus brief, submitted to the NLRB in June 2012, the AAUP stressed the extent to which the erosion of faculty power that union advocates at Point Park have cited reflects broad trends. “The application of a corporate model of management has resulted in significant changes in university institutional structure and distribution of authority. There has been a major expansion of the administrative hierarchy, which exercises greater unilateral authority over academic affairs,” the AAUP brief states.
It adds: “This organizational structure stands in stark contrast to the Yeshiva majority’s description of the university as a collegial institution primarily driven by the internal decision-making authority of its faculty. Further, university administrators increasingly are making decisions in response to external market concerns, rather than consulting with, relying on, or following faculty recommendations. Thus, university decision-making is increasingly made unilaterally by high-level administrators who are driven by external market factors in setting and implementing policy on such issues as program development or discontinuance, student admissions, tuition hikes, and university-industry relationships. As a result, the faculty have experienced a continually shrinking scope of influence over academic matters.”