Archives and Special Collections
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Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids
Title:Staff Council records
Dates:1962-1994 (bulk 1977-1990)
Call Number:A61

Historical Note

Northeastern University president Asa Knowles formed the NU Staff Cabinet, as the Staff Council was originally known, in January 1975 out of two existing organizations, the Women's Cabinet and the Technician's Group. The purpose of the Staff Cabinet was to promote harmonious working relationships between the administration, faculty, and weekly payroll staff; exchange information between staff and the university administration; organize social activities and foster friendly extracurricular contact among employees; allow staff to participate in formulating and changing policies affecting staff; and provide a medium for staff to submit recommendations for changes in conditions affecting staff. The Staff Cabinet also produced a monthly newsletter, the "Staff Advocate."

In 1976 the Staff Cabinet was nearly disbanded as the result of a complaint lodged with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against NU. A University employee, on behalf of the 9 to 5 Organization for Women Office Workers (a labor organization founded in 1973 to deal with women's issues in the workplace), charged that NU was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act by dominating the Staff Cabinet. The establishment of the Staff Cabinet had been announced publicly by NU president Asa Knowles. The Cabinet's original bylaws, drafted in 1974, provided for the election of eight members, while the president appointed the other seven members. Also, the Cabinet's expenses were paid by the University. In 1977, the Cabinet's bylaws were changed to allow for the election of all future cabinet members, but the NLRB ruled in 1978 that the Staff Cabinet was indeed dominated by the university and thus should be disbanded. A year later, the Court of Appeals rejected the NLRB's decision, and the Staff Cabinet remained intact.

The 1970s and 1980s saw numerous unionization attempts at NU. During that time, conflicting visions existed among the Staff Cabinet members as to its status, but it was never considered an official labor organization. Rather, it was considered a neutral alternative for those who did not support a union. In 1989 the Staff Cabinet was restructured into the Staff Council.