The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Police presence at employee town hall prompts ULP charge

Carson Gates
Chatham Faculty United Updates

The American Federation of Teachers union filed on behalf of Chatham Faculty United an unfair labor practice complaint against Chatham University’s administration for what it viewed to be an intimidating police presence at the employee town hall.

During the town hall on March 13 in Eddy Theatre, Chatham Public Safety officers were posted inside during the meeting and patrolling the outside of the building, according to faculty in attendance.

In response, the unfair labor practice charge was filed to ensure that legally protected union activities can proceed without undue pressure or intimidation from the administration. The administration contends that the charge is without merit and intends to contest it before the National Labor Relations Board.

The next step is for the regional director of the local National Labor Relations Board office to investigate the factual merit of the charge and determine if formal action should be taken.

If the regional director determines it is necessary, and if a settlement cannot be reached, a trial will be held before an administrative law judge. Based upon the evidence presented at trial, the NLRB will either dismiss the charge, issue a remedial order for the administration to cease the unfair labor practice or remand the case back to the judge for further consideration.

Regarding the reason for the unfair labor practice charge, Dr. Lou Martin, associate professor of history at Chatham and a member of Chatham Faculty United’s core organizing committee, said that Chatham Public Safety police officers appeared to be patrolling the outside of the building as well as posted at positions in the aisles of Eddy Theatre at the employee town hall.

“I would guess almost every police officer we had was there patrolling,” Dr. Martin said. “They didn’t join us in the audience. And so that led one of us to ask, ‘Are you here as a staff member?’ and the answer was ‘No, we’re here to keep the peace.’”

Reflecting on the police presence at the town hall, Dr. Jessie Ramey, associate professor of women’s & gender studies and a Chatham Faculty United core organizing committee member, said “I have not seen campus security attend in large numbers at an event like this before, and I have never seen our security officers standing in the aisles.

“It definitely sent the message to a lot of faculty who were there that they were being observed. There was a sense of being monitored,” Dr. Ramey said. “This is a really good example of a line getting crossed.”

In response to the unfair labor practice charge, Bill Campbell, vice president of Marketing & Communications at Chatham, said in an email that “Chatham views this charge as without merit and looks forward to defending the unionized public safety officers’ right to attend the March 2024 meeting and, if they choose, to attend future Town Hall meetings.”

Campbell added that all faculty and staff are invited to attend town hall meetings and that Public Safety officers regularly choose to attend as staff members.

How we got here

In February, the Chatham Faculty United sent a letter to the administration requesting that it voluntarily recognize a union representing all full-time faculty. Approximately 80% of faculty had signed cards expressing their desire to unionize.

Chatham President Rhonda Phillips responded in an email that was forwarded to the student body on Feb. 16 that the administration would not voluntarily recognize the union and that the University contends the faculty are managerial employees because of their role in shared governance at Chatham.

Currently, the faculty and the administration are engaged in hearings before the National Labor Relations Board, which will determine if the faculty are eligible
to join a union. So far, witnesses have testified about the structure of the University, the roles of various faculty positions, how much say faculty have in decision-making and more. The hearings are ongoing, with only two of a potential 13 witnesses having taken the stand so far to provide testimony.

Follow @Communique_CU on Instagram for continued coverage of the Chatham Faculty United hearings.

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About the Contributors
Kyle Ferreira
Kyle Ferreira, Contributing Writer
Kyle Ferreira 25' is a Media Arts major with a concentration in photography. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Kyle chose Chatham because it is a bastion of tranquility and natural beauty in the heart of the city, and because the size of the University lends itself to a more personal experience of higher education. An avid photographer, Kyle believes in the power of visual storytelling for documentary and journalistic endeavors. Kyle seeks to incorporate compelling visuals with the Communique's written stories. He considers photography and the visual arts to be an essential tool for capturing the attention of an audience and engaging them with stories. In his free time, Kyle enjoys exploring the city or hiking in the wilderness with his camera as his guide. His passion for photography motivates Kyle to perfect his craft, for there is always more to learn and new places to see.
Carson Gates
Carson Gates, Editor in Chief
Carson Gates ’25 is a Communications major with a concentration in journalism. Carson is from the Buffalo, New York area, and chose Chatham University for its quiet and homey feel on campus, while also being smack dab in a major city. Carson is the editor-in-chief for the Communqiué, and when he writes, he writes primarily for the sports section but has been known to dabble in other areas as well. While being a writer, Carson is the host for the Communqiué podcast in the quad, the "Quadcast." Carson is also a goalie for Chatham's men's ice hockey team. Carson Gates can be reached best at [email protected] or via Instagram or Twitter @gatesy35.

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