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Duke University Press workers officially win union

<p>Courtesy of @DUPWorkersUnion on Twitter.</p>

Courtesy of @DUPWorkersUnion on Twitter.

The National Labor Relations Board denied Duke’s final appeal to contest the March legal certification of the Duke University Press Workers Union. 

In a Wednesday decision filed by the NLRB, the Board found that the University’s request for review was denied “as it raises no substantial issues warranting review.” 

The Board’s decision marks the end of a legal battle between the DUP Workers Union and the University spanning over a year. Now that workers are officially unionized, they can begin bargaining with management. 

“Our priorities will be determined after surveying the members of the bargaining unit, but generally we are hoping to bargain a contract that recognizes the industry-leading work we do and makes Duke Press a more supportive and sustainable place to work for its staff,” DUP Workers Union member Benjamin Kossak wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

DUP Director Dean Smith did not respond to a request for comment. 

The University filed their appeal to contest the certification in April, in response to an NLRB regional director’s decision that overturned the University’s objections to the legal certification of the union over “administrative failures” and technical issues during the ballot count.

Employees originally voted for legal certification in June 2021, with 35 votes in favor of unionizing and 31 against. The vote resulted in eight challenged ballots, though five were later dropped. 

A week after the vote count, however, lawyers representing the University petitioned the NLRB for a re-run election. In October, the NLRB overturned this request, a decision Duke then appealed with a request for review.

An NLRB regional director ruled against a new election in December and determined that the three challenged ballots were eligible to be counted. Duke and DUP leadership subsequently requested a review of the regional director’s decision. In March, the five-member NLRB dismissed Duke’s request

The final tally, including the challenged ballots, resulted in a majority in favor of unionizing. Despite requests from the union for Duke to respect the election results and begin bargaining, Duke appealed the results and unsuccessfully pushed for a second election. 

The DUP Workers Union first went public in March 2021, though Duke did not voluntarily recognize the union. Concerns among employees include low pay, high turnover and frustrations with leave policies. Union members hope to negotiate a $45,000 pay floor for all employees at DUP. They also look to match some of the Duke Faculty Union’s contract, which includes up to one month of paid medical leave and an additional nine weeks of parental leave. 

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Thursday afternoon to include comment from Benjamin Kossak. It was also updated to add that DUP Director Dean Smith did not respond to request for comment. 


Audrey Wang | University News Editor

Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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