Senior-Level Administrator Perceptions of Collective Bargaining at Catholic Colleges and Universities

Michele Lynn Nelson, Fordham University


The economic, political, social, and other factors that spurred union growth in higher education during the 1960s and 1970s parallel some of the circumstances affecting union growth in higher education today. From 2012 to 2016 there was significant growth in collective bargaining efforts at colleges and universities with the most significant growth at private institutions. Catholic colleges, grounded in Catholic Social Teachings, have responded to collective bargaining efforts in different ways: some remaining neutral and some challenging the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board over their institutions. This transcendental phenomenological qualitative study attempts to learn the perceptions of senior-level Catholic college administrators about collective bargaining at Catholic colleges and universities. The findings indicate that participating senior leaders at these institutions were generally supportive of collective bargaining, but they did not want union growth on their campuses. They preferred collegial, direct relationships with their staffs. Participants also disagreed about which constituents had the right to unionize. Further, Catholic Social Teachings about worker rights generally influenced their perception of collective bargain. Other significant factors contributing to participants’ perceptions included their leadership style and professional experience with unions, fiscal pressures, and concerns about increased government regulation and interference, both as it relates to National Labor Relations Board jurisdiction and more broadly to other aspects of federal, state, and local government.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Nelson, Michele Lynn, "Senior-Level Administrator Perceptions of Collective Bargaining at Catholic Colleges and Universities" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10283963.