LEWISTON — The National Labor Relations Board decided Friday that ballots cast 14 months ago on whether to create a union for Bates College support staff and non-tenured faculty will soon be counted.

Bates President Clayton Spencer said in an open letter that the college heard the news Friday and is waiting for details.

The federal board that oversees union elections told its regional director in Boston to tally the votes that have been sealed since January 2022 pending a decision on whether non-tenured faculty should be allowed to join a union that would include the rest of Bates’ support staff.

In the wake of the court decision, the board said, “We discern no basis for continuing to impound the ballots in this case.”

More than 30% of Bates’ union-eligible workforce signed paperwork in 2021 to join the Maine Service Employees Association. The union vote followed.

The order to count the votes follows a January federal court ruling in a different case that threw out a Trump era policy that put off the counting of union ballots when there were pending disputes about which ones should be included.


After the court decision, a union lawyer, Jeffrey Young, filed a motion requesting the board’s support for counting the impounded ballots.

Bates has a pending argument before the labor board that about 85 non-tenured faculty should not be allowed to join the same union as support staff, who number 550. It is unclear when the board will hear the case.

Meanwhile, though, regulators plan to tally the union votes that were cast.

From the beginning, the votes were divided into two groups: one consisting of the support staff and the other the faculty members who are not on a tenure track.

It appears there will be separate counts for each group.

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