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National Labor Relations Board v. Yeshiva University

decided: July 31, 1978.


Petition to enforce an order of the National Labor Relations Board which found that respondent had violated sections 8(a)(5) and (a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(5), (a)(1), by refusing to bargain with a Union which had been certified as a representative of its employees in a unit defined by the Board. Enforcement denied.

Before Lumbard, Mulligan and Timbers, Circuit Judges.

Author: Mulligan

The National Labor Relations Board (the Board) has applied for enforcement of its order of August 24, 1977, reported at 231 NLRB No. 98, requiring respondent Yeshiva University (Yeshiva) to recognize the Yeshiva University Faculty Association (the Union) as the exclusive bargaining agent of a unit of Yeshiva's full-time faculty members. The petition for enforcement of the Board's order is denied.


On October 30, 1974 the Union filed a petition under § 9(e) of the National Labor Relations Act (the Act), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 159(e), for certification of a bargaining unit consisting of full-time faculty at Yeshiva University.*fn1 In opposition Yeshiva contended that all its faculty members are managerial or supervisory personnel and hence not employees within the meaning of the Act. Alternatively, the University sought a unit consisting of all full-time and regular part-time faculty with certain exclusions for managerial or supervisory personnel. Between November 26, 1974 and May 6, 1975 hearings were conducted before a Board-appointed hearing officer. On December 5, 1975 the Board issued its decision and direction of election, reported at 221 N.L.R.B. 1053.

The Board found that the Union was a labor organization within the meaning of the Act and that University faculty were professional employees and not managerial or supervisory personnel. The Board further found that department chairmen, assistant deans, and faculty members of certain committees with University-wide jurisdiction were neither managerial nor supervisory personnel. The Board concluded that a unit of full-time faculty was an appropriate bargaining unit.*fn2

In the election held pursuant to the Board's direction between December 16 and 20, 1976 the Union won by a substantial margin. On December 29, 1976 the Union was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees in the unit.

Yeshiva, however, refused to bargain with the Union and on February 2, 1977 the Board issued a complaint against the University under charges filed by the Union. Yeshiva opposed the complaint and a subsequent motion for summary judgment, again raising objections to the propriety of the NLRB's unit determination.

The University's position was rejected by the Board, which found Yeshiva to be acting in violation of §§ 8(a)(5) and (a)(1) of the Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(5), (a)(1). The Board granted summary judgment against Yeshiva and ordered the respondent to bargain collectively with the Union. This proceeding was commenced by the Board on October 17, 1977 following Yeshiva's continued refusal to comply with its decision and order.

On this appeal, Yeshiva argues principally, as it did before the Board, that the full-time faculty of the University are managerial and/or supervisory employees within the meaning of the Act and are therefore excluded from the Act's coverage. Yeshiva also urges that two assistant deans and faculty who are departmental or divisional chairmen, or who are members of certain committees on University affairs, exercise additional authority which mandates their classification as supervisors and/or managers.*fn3 Before examining these contentions it is necessary to review the structure of Yeshiva and the role played by the faculty in the operation and governance of the University.


Yeshiva University is a private institution of higher education chartered under the laws of the State of New York. Its offices and educational facilities are located on four widely separated campuses in New York City. We are here concerned with Yeshiva's six undergraduate colleges and programs,*fn4 and four graduate schools.*fn5 Approximately 2,500 full and part-time students are enrolled at Yeshiva. The University is staffed by 209 full-time and 150 part-time faculty members.*fn6

Yeshiva has a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees with no administrative position at the school apart from their membership on the Board. The University's chief executive officer is the President. There are, in addition, three vice-presidents at Yeshiva (for student affairs, business affairs, academic affairs) as well as a Bursar, Registrar, Director of Admissions and several University deans. An Executive Council of deans and administrators makes recommendations to the President with respect to various matters. Two other committees, the Council of Graduate Schools and the Council of Undergraduate Schools advise the President and Board regarding inter-divisional programs designed to increase coordination and cooperation among the schools and divisions of the University. These councils consist of elected student and faculty representatives from each school or division, the dean or director of each academic unit and members of the University administration, including the President. A Faculty Handbook sets forth University policies regarding faculty appointments, promotion, tenure, termination and sabbaticals.

Each of the schools or divisions is headed by a dean or director. Most of the schools have a faculty assembly or student-faculty senate as well as a committee structure, including, Inter alia, a curriculum committee, a standards committee, and a welfare committee. The faculty of each school meet periodically and at Stern College, Yeshiva College, and the Belfer and Ferkauf Graduate Schools the faculties meet and conduct their affairs according to written by-laws and/or constitutions which have been approved by the President. Only two of the schools, Yeshiva College and the Belfer Graduate School, have assistant deans. These two assistant deans are teaching faculty members.

Each school, college and program at Yeshiva enjoys great autonomy in determining its own curriculum, grading system, and academic standards as well as in a wide variety of other matters. Therefore the role of the faculty at Yeshiva can best be appreciated by a review of the individual academic units of the University.

1. Stern College for Women

At Stern College a Committee on Academic Standards, composed of the Dean of the College, Dean Mirsky, who retains his faculty rank, and six full-time faculty, fixes the academic requirements and decides whether a student whose performance is inadequate will be required to leave the school. Although Dean Mirsky recognizes that the decision to dismiss a student results in a loss of tuition income, he has never overruled the Committee. Similar committees composed predominantly of faculty members establish admission standards, determine graduation requirements, and set up grading systems. Upon the recommendation of a scheduling committee the faculty introduced a new scheduling model for the school. In response to growing budgetary limitations, a faculty committee on personnel and budget has made generally effective recommendations concerning elimination of elective courses, the establishment of joint courses, and other scheduling changes. In the 1969-70 academic year the Stern College faculty disagreed with a decision by Dean Mirsky and the Curriculum Committee to delete Stern's education major; Mirsky reinstituted the major. Indeed, a faculty dominated curriculum committee must pass on all program changes or changes in graduation requirements.

Department chairmen call to Mirsky's attention the need for new faculty members. Interviewing is done by the chairman and the Dean who then agree on an appointment. Dean Mirsky has never made a faculty appointment which was not approved by a department chairman. Similarly effective recommendations are made by department chairmen regarding termination of faculty members. Mirsky has only once disagreed with a department chairman with respect to a termination.

Promotion recommendations are solicited from department chairmen by a faculty Promotions Committee. The committee passes on its recommendation to Mirsky who has always accepted the committee's decisions. The University President has granted the great majority of recommended promotions and has never overruled a negative recommendation.

Tenure recommendations are made both by Mirsky and the candidate's department chairman to the University President. All negative tenure recommendations by chairmen have been accepted both by Mirsky and by the administration. In only one instance has Mirsky disagreed with a chairman's positive tenure recommendation. Nevertheless, tenure was granted on that occasion.

2. Yeshiva College

At Yeshiva College a College Senate composed of faculty, administrators, students and alumni members has jurisdiction over admissions policy, scholastic standards, the grading system and other academic policy matters. All measures passed by the Senate are subject to veto by the Faculty Assembly. The Dean of the College, Dean Bacon, who is also a professor of linguistics, testified that he feels compelled to see that decisions of the Senate and Assembly are executed. Moreover, not once in Bacon's sixteen years as Dean has the University President vetoed an action by either body. Bacon is aided by an assistant dean who teaches one course per semester.

Yeshiva College is divided into "subject areas" which are the equivalent of departments in other schools. The counterpart of the department chairman at Yeshiva College is the senior professor in the subject area. Subject areas are grouped into four broad divisions. One senior professor in each division serves as a "divisional chairman."

The divisional chairmen comprise the Advisory Council on Promotions. Recommendations on promotions by the Council have always been followed by the President of the University, although such recommendations have, at times, been in conflict with those made by Dean Bacon.

Senior professors screen applicants for faculty positions. Dean Bacon and the senior professor then jointly make the hiring decisions with Bacon generally accepting the recommendations of the senior professor. Indeed, the Dean has never appointed a faculty member over the objection of a senior professor and once sustained a senior professor's objection over the appointment desired by a University Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Dean Bacon has given equal deference to the recommendations of senior professors regarding termination and reappointment of probationary faculty. Finally, senior professors largely determine the budget of their subject area. The budget requests of the senior professors receive perfunctory approval by Bacon "99 percent" of the time and during Bacon's tenure had never been rejected by the University administration.

3. Erna Michael College

At Erna Michael College, admissions procedure, curricular matters, grading, scheduling and other questions of academic policy are subjects on which the faculty, through the faculty meeting, governs. The faculty has also implemented a basic restructuring of the College in which the number of academic hours required of students was substantially reduced. As a result, faculty at the College now teach fewer hours and teach a minimum of only three rather than four days per week. Dean Rabinowitz of Erna Michael testified that he felt bound to institute even those faculty decisions with which he disagreed, such as the establishment of a trimester academic calendar. Neither Dean Rabinowitz nor any other member of the administration has ever vetoed a decision of the faculty on such issues.

Evaluation of faculty to determine whether retention or salary increase is warranted is often carried out at a meeting of faculty in the affected member's academic subject area and is led by the senior professor who, as at Yeshiva College, is the equivalent of a department chairman. At other times such evaluations are simply made by the senior professor. The role of the senior professors at ...

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