Update on Union Election

Dear Colleagues,

I write to provide an update on the union election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from January 6 through January 28. Ballots have been received by the regional office of the NLRB, but it was confirmed this afternoon that they will not be counted today as originally scheduled because a request for review of the appropriateness of the bargaining unit is pending before the NLRB and remains unresolved.

We sought the review as soon as the unit was determined, because the way the proposed bargaining unit at Bates has been defined raises an important question of law with significant implications for Bates and higher education. Combining faculty and staff in the same bargaining unit introduces a number of practical issues in negotiations over questions regarding wages, hours, and working conditions. In fact, the NLRB has never directed that faculty and staff should be in the same bargaining unit on a private college campus.

To date, the NLRB has not reached a decision on the request for review. Under these circumstances, their rules and regulations require that all ballots submitted in this election must be impounded — i.e., set aside unopened and not counted — until a decision is rendered. As a result, the ballots will not be counted today, as originally planned.

I realize that this has been a long and stressful process, regardless of which side of the issue you are on, and we would all like clarity at this point. With that in mind, we will continue to share updates as the process moves forward. Meanwhile, thank you for your patience as we wait for important issues to be resolved.