The National Labor Relations Board has turned back Duquesne University's attempt to prevent adjunct faculty members from voting on whether to unionize.The decision follows the latest attempt by a Catholic college to use First Amendment religious freedom to block what Catholic teaching clearly says is workers' right to organize. Inside Higher Ed summarized Duquesne's argument as "Too Catholic to unionize?"If it were as thoroughly Catholic as it says it is, Duquesne would follow church teaching and permit its employees to decide if they want to join a union.Instead, it called in the lawyers. Using its full name, Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit argued that it is a church-operated school within the meaning of the 1979 Supreme Court ruling in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago. If it is, it would be exempt from NLRB jurisdiction on First Amendment grounds.It's ironic that the religious freedom granted through the Constitution could be used by a church organization to avoid following one of its faith's own teachings.Duquesne's media office hasn't returned my call. There's no word if the university will appeal.Update: Duquesne has appealed the NLRB decision, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses.