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Question of the Month

From the Catherwood Library reference librarians

October 2004

PLEASE NOTE: The Reference Question of the Month is kept current only during the month for which it was written. Archived questions will not be updated, and over time may contain inaccurate information or broken web links. We provide archived questions as a service, since much of the information will remain accurate and of continued interest to the ILR community.

Question: Update: Graduate Student Unions

Answer: On July 15, 2004, the National Labor Relations Board declared that under federal law, graduate students were not employees and reversed the legal precedent that gave grad students employees the right to organize in a 3-2 vote.

You can read the decision at the: Graduate Student Employee Union webpage


Labor Board Says Graduate Students at Private Universities Have No Right to Unionize
STEVEN GREENHOUSE and KAREN W. ARENSON. New York Times (Late Edition (east Coast)). New York , N.Y. : Jul 16, 2004 . p. A.14

Abstract (Article Summary)

Sheldon E. Steinbach, vice president and general counsel for the American Council on Education, a trade group that represents universities and other educational institutions, called the ruling 'magnificent' but said he was not surprised by it because of the labor board's changed lineup. The N.Y.U. decision was itself a reversal of the board's decades-old position that graduate assistants should not be able to unionize.

'The previous decision in the N.Y.U. case overturned over 30 years of determinations by the National Labor Relations Board on whether graduate students who worked as teaching and research assistants were students or employees,' Mr. Steinbach said. 'And it threatened the traditional relationship between colleges and their graduate student assistants.'

After the N.Y.U. decision, graduate teaching and research assistants at Brown, Columbia, Tufts and the University of Pennsylvania voted on whether they should unionize, but those universities appealed to the National Labor Relations Board. The votes were not counted while the cases were pending.

NLRB Says No to Graduate Student Unions
By staff

Labor Board Says No to Grad Unions
Article in The Pennsylvania Gazette

Original question can be found here:

Can graduate students and/or teaching assistants organize a union?

— Researched by DSL