The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Faculty union efforts not recognized by administration

The future of Chatham Faculty United is in question as the matter heads to the National Labor Review Board. Illustration by Kyle Ferreira/Logo by Chatham Faculty United.

Chatham University President Rhonda Phillips announced on Feb. 16 that the University has decided not to voluntarily recognize Chatham Faculty United, the faculty’s unionization effort, as a collective bargaining unit.

Chatham Faculty United sent a letter to President Phillips and the Board of Trustees requesting voluntary recognition as a union within an 8-day window that ended Feb. 14.

With voluntary recognition refused, the usual next step for unionization efforts is to petition the local National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office to hold a representation election among the faculty. Should a majority vote in favor of the unionization effort, the NLRB will certify Chatham Faculty United as the faculty’s representative to negotiate with the University. Chatham would then be required to negotiate a contract in good faith.

In the email to faculty, President Phillips explained the University’s decision. An email was forwarded to students minutes later.

“While Chatham fully respects the rights to collective bargaining under the law, the university must also pursue the best interests of the entire university community in all actions we take,” President Phillips said in the email. “This is why Chatham will not respond to any demands for union recognition without first seeking a fair hearing before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the appropriateness of the requested bargaining unit.”

President Phillips elaborated that the University’s position is that “Chatham’s full-time and regular part-time faculty are categorized as managerial employees under the law because of their role in shared governance and, therefore, are not eligible for collective bargaining representation.”

The unionization effort started following decisions that affected the faculty after the University-wide reorganization began in June. So far, the University has changed health care and retirement benefits and eliminated free bus passes for faculty.

According to the Chatham Faculty United website, the group wants faculty members to be involved in the decision-making process for the University.

Chatham Faculty United gained traction following a card signing kickoff event on Jan. 25. More than 75% of the faculty have signed cards, demonstrating that more than the required 30% of the faculty are interested in forming a union. This allowed the union to move forward and request voluntary recognition by the University’s administration.

Representatives from Chatham Faculty United did not provide a comment on the developments prior to publication.

Follow @Communique_cu on Instagram for continued coverage of Chatham Faculty United. 


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About the Contributor
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.

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