BusinessLegalFlorida University Uses Religious Exemption to Disband Faculty Union

Florida University Uses Religious Exemption to Disband Faculty Union

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Citing a religious exemption, Edward Waters University – a private, historically Black school in Jacksonville – has shut down its faculty union.

The news came weeks after the university announced the inaugural leader of its A. Philip Randolph Institute, named after a prominent African American labor leader who led a successful campaign in 1925 to organize a union of Pullman workers and helped lead the 1963 March on Washington.

But Felicia Wider-Lewis, Ph.D – a former associate professor at Edward Waters – said she will have to leave the school today.

She claimed the infrastructure deteriorated over the years, and efforts to bargain with university leaders for better conditions failed.

“And I’m not trying to disparage the college in any mean way,” said Wider-Lewis. “But we were fighting for our rights – basically, you know, for shared governance, for to have better wages and working conditions – all the things that everybody wants, you know.”

Classes just ended this week for the fall semester at Edward Waters.

The university declined to comment for this story, but in a statement to the news organization The Tributary, it cited the National Labor Relations Board’s 2020 decision not to have jurisdiction over religious schools.

The university stated it allows “EWU to be driven by its faith-based Christian mission, rather than the political agendas often associated with federal labor policies.”

Wider-Lewis said the faculty union has been operating under the American Association of University Professors.

Lengthy negotiations came to a sudden halt in May when the university sent a letter saying it will not recognize the union – and since then, it has not.

“You know, the political arena right now, and previous in the Trump administration,” said Wider-Lewis, “more of the politics was that anti-union stance.”

Last year, the board of trustees of St. Leo University in Florida voted to no longer recognize its 44-year-old faculty union.

St. Xavier University in Chicago took a similar stance, as have other religious institutions – taking advantage of the NLRB decision, which is related to a 2018 court case.

Universidad de Florida utiliza exención religiosa para disolver sindicato de profesores

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Argumentando una exencion religiosa, la Universidad Edward Waters -una escuela privada historicamente negra de Jacksonville- ha cerrado su sindicato de profesores.

La noticia se produjo semanas despues de que la universidad anunciara la inauguracion de su Instituto A. Philip Randolph, que lleva el nombre de un destacado lider sindical afroamericano que dirigio una exitosa campana en 1925 para organizar un sindicato de trabajadores de Pullman.

Pero hoy, la Dra. Felicia Wider-Lewis, antigua profesora asociada de Edward Waters, dice que tuvo que abandonar la escuela.

Afirma que la infraestructura se deterioro con el paso de los anos y que los esfuerzos por negociar con los dirigentes de la universidad para mejorar las condiciones fracasaron.

“No estoy tratando de menospreciar a la universidad de ninguna manera,” asegura Wider-Lewis. “Pero estamos luchando por nuestros derechos – basicamente, por el gobierno compartido, por tener mejores salarios y condiciones de trabajo – todas las cosas que todo el mundo quiere.”

Las clases acaban de terminar esta semana para el semestre de otono en Edward Waters.

La universidad se nego a hacer comentarios para esta historia, pero en una declaracion, a la organizacion de noticias The Tributary, cito la decision de la Junta Nacional de Relaciones Laborales de 2020 de no tener jurisdiccion sobre las escuelas religiosas.

La universidad declaro que permite que “E-W-U esta impulsada por su mision cristiana basada en la fe, en lugar de agendas politicas a menudo asociadas con las politicas laborales federales.”

Wider-Lewis dice que el sindicato de profesores ha estado operando bajo la Asociacion Americana de Profesores Universitarios.

Las largas negociaciones se interrumpieron repentinamente en mayo, cuando la universidad envio una carta diciendo que no reconoceria al sindicato, y desde entonces no lo ha hecho.

“Es la arena politica ahora mismo, y antes en la administracion de Trump,” dice Wider-Lewis. “Mas que la politica era esa postura antisindical.”

El ano pasado, la junta directiva de la Universidad de St. Leo, en Florida, voto a favor de dejar de reconocer a su sindicato de profesores, con 44 anos de antiguedad.

La Universidad St. Xavier de Chicago adopto una postura similar, al igual que otras instituciones religiosas, aprovechando la decision de la Junta Nacional de Relaciones Laborales (NLRB), por diversas razones.

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