SEIU Local 73 Prevails in NLRB Case Against University of Chicago, Advancing Workers’ Rights

WFU Victory

SEIU Local 73, a prominent labor union representing over 35,000 workers throughout Illinois and Northwest Indiana, celebrates a significant victory in a recent case before Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concerning the appropriate inclusion of the unrepresented “Writing Faculty United” (WFU) group into the existing University of Chicago non-tenure track academic appointees bargaining unit, known as “Faculty Forward.”

The NLRB’s Regional Director’s Decision & Direction of Election (D&DE) marks a substantial achievement for the labor union and its members. The decision firmly establishes that academic appointees and staff employees can indeed be organized within the same unit, countering any notion of a rigid separation.

Highlights of the decision recognize the functional integration and shared characteristics of the two employee groups, supporting their inclusion in a unified bargaining unit. The D&DE emphasized that WFU constitutes a distinct, identifiable segment of the University’s employees, aligning with the criteria for the direction of a self-determination election. The University’s argument against Local 73’s representation of WFU employees was therefore rejected by the Region, reaffirming the union’s right to advocate for these workers.

“Across the country, employers are doing all they can to create arbitrary hurdles that limit their employees’ ability to unionize. Though the fight for workers’ right to organize is not over, we are proud of the dedication and willingness that members at WFU continue to showcase that helped lead our union to this momentous victory,” said Dian Palmer, President of SEIU Local 73.

The subsequent step in this landmark victory is the forthcoming self-determination election, to be conducted via USPS. Ballots will be mailed to eligible members on October 4, ensuring the voices of WFU employees are heard. The deadline for ballot submission will be on November 6, with the counting of ballots scheduled for November 8.

“We’re thrilled to have won this decision; it reflects all the hard work that has gone into organizing writing instructors at the university,” said Sarah Osment, Writing Specialist at the University of Chicago. “We’re looking forward to our upcoming election, which, if won, will not only be a win for organizing workers, but also for our students: our working conditions are their learning conditions.”