This is an unusual labor relations development, reminiscent of a neutrality agreement. POLITICO is reporting that Georgetown University leaders have agreed to conduct a private to determine if their graduate students wish to be represented by a union. The NLRB will not conduct the election.
Georgetown University said it will recognize a graduate employees’ union should students vote to unionize — even if the NLRB rolls back an Obama-era decision allowing student workers to organize.
“Georgetown will respect our rights to vote for a union and collectively bargain a contract even if the NLRB reverses its earlier decision allowing graduate workers to unionize,” the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees tweeted today. “This is a MAJOR step forward in our negotiations with @Georgetown.”
Georgetown’s position is a sharp contrast with other major universities that have tried to limit graduate students’ collective bargaining rights. In a 2016 case involving Columbia University, the NLRB ruled that graduate student workers are covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Historically faith-based universities have tested the limits of religious exemptions, though the NLRB has taken the stance that only students whose job directly includes a religious component are exempt.
The new Republican-controlled NLRB is expected to reverse the landmark decision.