The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturns existing ruling in 3-1 decision
Graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants at private universities won the right on Tuesday to join unions, overturning an opposing decision by the NLRB in 2004.
The ruling depended on the board’s view that graduate students count as employees of the organisation, rather than as students – a conclusion that has now flip-flopped three times since the first ruling (in favour of graduates) in 2000.
The board said that its 2004 decision – which suggested that graduate employees joining unions would damage the educational process – “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the [National Labor Relations] Act without a convincing justification”.
The achievement is an outgrowth of a petition filed by The Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWC) union – a local arm of the powerful United Automobile Workers (UAW) union – at Columbia University in December 2014 that sought to represent graduate and undergraduate research and teaching assistants.