Pa. Labor Relations Board allows HACC faculty union election to progress

HACC Rally

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) ruled last week that Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) gave the board a “factually and legally inaccurate” list preventing a faculty union from forming, thus giving the Hawk Faculty United campaign a boost towards getting an election.

“We knew that we had clearly met the requirements for a union election,” Amy Withrow, professor of English and co-spokesperson for the Hawk Faculty United campaign said in a press release. “We are pleased that the PLRB agreed with what we’ve been saying all along.”

The order, decided on Oct. 25, was issued in response to arguments about the definition of employment. The problem was whether faculty met the legally required “showing of interest,” where a minimum of 30% of full-time and adjunct professors had signed cards to support a union election.

To make a decision, HACC submitted a faculty list that had 276 adjunct professors’ names who weren’t on payroll when the election petition was filed, and three other staff members who didn’t meet criteria of being in the bargaining unit.

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The PLRB found HACC’s administration padded the list, making it seem that faculty didn’t reach that 30% requirement. The PLRB determined the list HACC submitted was “factually and legally inaccurate.”

Since the Pa. State Education Association (PSEA) filed the petition in Dec. 2020, PLRB found the administration was delaying the desired election with administrative maneuvering.

“It’s been more than 310 days since we filed our petition,” Lewis Jones, an adjunct professor of anthropology and campaign co-spokesperson said. “We are excited to be able to take this important step towards an election. Stalling the democratic process benefits no one.”

In PLRB’s order, they say:

“There is a strong policy reason for limiting the employee list to those providing teaching services and receiving payment for those services immediately prior to the filing of the Petition. The reason is to prevent the College from packing the list by having the ability to hire employees after the filing of the Petition, thereby diluting the showing of interest. It, therefore, stands to reason that the employer also cannot be permitted to pack the list and dilute the showing of interest with the names of prior employees who are not currently and actively teaching. No one can be certain whether a regular part-time adjunct, not currently teaching, is definitely going to return to service, where changes in life plans may intervene.”

Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board

With this order, the PLRB agreed to remove 276 faculty names from HACC’s list who weren’t teaching in Fall 2020, with some who hadn’t taught since Fall 2019, before card signing began. The secretary will now look at a showing of interest based on the new, accurate list.

HACC is also directed to give an election eligibility list within 10 days of the PLRB’s order filing, which is Oct. 25. Once that’s finalized, an election will be scheduled.

Hawk Faculty United says the administration has been stalling the process and is pleading to move on to have an election before the end of the year.

The bargaining unit includes over 800 full-time and adjunct faculty members from the Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Gettysburg and York campuses. The faculty local will be affiliated with PSEA.

Officials say HACC is the only Pa. community college today without faculty union representation and this campaign has been ongoing for about two years.

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