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While several Catholic colleges have been fighting the federal government’s attempts to exert its authority over internal affairs over the past few years, the reportedly “neutral stance” of Saint Michael’s College has ensured that another Catholic institution falls prey to the unconstitutional oversight of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The Catholic Church often looks favorably on collective bargaining by employees, but federal oversight can mean enforcement of union demands that compromise a college’s Catholic mission, such as immoral health benefits.  Despite the NLRB’s continuing efforts to exert its authority over Catholic colleges, the Supreme Court has already ruled in NLRB v. The Catholic Bishop of Chicago, et al. and other federal court cases that the labor board is violating their First Amendment rights.

Nevertheless, the Vermont-based Catholic college said it voluntarily “took a neutral stance on the organization effort,” according to, which then resulted in the NLRB-supervised vote of adjunct faculty to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The NLRB released the vote tally on Monday, in favor of joining.

According to the report:

College dean Jeffrey Ayres released a brief statement saying that the college encouraged its adjunct faculty to vote and describing them as “an important part of the college in providing an excellent educational experience.”

Although Saint Michael’s College may have passively allowed for the association with the SEIU, last year Seattle University’s provost reportedly told employees that the Jesuit university opposed the affiliation with the SEIU, because it would invite oversight by the NLRB and weaken the institution’s religious freedom.  The labor board declared Seattle University not religious enough to be exempt from its oversight earlier this year, but the University has appealed the decision.

The NLRB ruled last year that Duquesne University must hold union elections for its adjunct faculty, which the University has appealed.  And both Manhattan College and Saint Xavier University in Chicago have opposed NLRB rulings that they are insufficiently religious to be exempt from the Board’s oversight.

Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly summarized the history of the NLRB’s encroachment on religious freedom in “The NLRB’s Assault on Religious Liberty.”

Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.


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