Feburary 28, 2017
The Executive Committee of the Loyola Lakeside AAUP Chapter notes with appreciation Loyola’s communications throughout the process leading to the decision by our graduate assistants to be represented by SEIU. We commend Loyola’s “philosophy on unionization,” as given on the informative website created for the students:
We respect the rights of our graduate assistants to decide whether being represented by a union is in their best interest, and we remain true to the Jesuit, Catholic social teaching on workers’ rights and our mission by committing to giving graduate assistants a voice.
This seems to us to have been just the right note to strike. Our chapter shares the belief stated here that employees should decide this question for themselves, and we thank the university for respecting their right to make that decision.
We are disappointed, however, that Loyola continues to frame labor issues in terms of “government interference” with the university’s unquestioned right “to define our own mission and govern our institution in accordance with our values and beliefs.” Although we understand that other Jesuit and Catholic institutions have taken this position, we would like to see our institution reject this specious line of argument. We have yet to hear Loyola cite one compelling example to show how either NLRB jurisdiction or collective bargaining detracts from the university’s control over its mission. Nor is the disenfranchisement of the graduate assistants in theology of any real benefit to the university’s mission.
In this connection we observe that the SEIU contract with American University, which is quoted on Loyola’s unionization website for graduate assistants, expressly stipulates: “the Union agrees that the University has the right to establish, plan, direct and control the University’s mission, programs, objectives, activities, resources, and priorities….” We are confident that Loyola will be able, in the same way, to safeguard its mission and values in any contract negotiated with SEIU Local 73.
The appeal to religious freedom where there is no true threat to religious freedom has uncomfortable associations in the context of national current events. Although Loyola admirably champions social justice, spurious “religious freedom” arguments are being used elsewhere in our country to deny human rights to others. We would be most pleased to see Loyola disentangle itself from this line of argument in the future.
Lakeside AAUP Executive Committee
David Chinitz, President; Marta Lundy, Vice President; Alanah Fitch, Past President;
Devorah Schoenfeld, Membership Chair; David Ingram, Treasurer; Sherrie Weller, Secretary; Pamela Caughie, Appeals Advocate; Elizabeth Coffman, John Pincince, OiYan Poon, and Paige Warren, At-Large Representatives; Anna Ullmann, Graduate Instructor Representative; Megan Bordewyk, Webmaster
Click to read a pdf copy of AAUP’s letter-on-unionization.