After a two year delay caused by resistance from the university, adjunct faculty at Seattle University won a union today after their votes were counted by the National Labor Relations Board.
The vote was 73 to 63 to join Service Employees International Union 925.
In a statement, the union said the faculty had joined a movement around "winning better pay, improved working conditions, professional recognition and support from their employers."
Adjunct faculty—professors who are not tenure-track and often employed on a part-time basis—make up a majority of higher education instructors in the country and often face low wages.
University management had claimed it was exempt from federal labor rules because Seattle University—a Catholic college—is a religious institution.
"This is a culmination of a lot of hard word and it is a dream come true!" said adjunct faculty member Julie Harms Cannon."
Seattle University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Students who occupied the university's humanities college, ultimately winning the resignation of a dean they blamed for marginalizing students of color, had also called on the university to allow faculty to unionize.
Researchers have found strong connections between between the proliferation of unions, a thriving middle class and intergenerational income mobility.