Graduate students seeking to unionize give up on NLRB

  • March 15, 2018

Graduate students seeking to unionize give up on NLRB

 Some graduate students are giving up on their union bids out of fear that a Republican-majority National Labor Relations Board will overturn a 2016 decision allowing graduate assistants at private universities to unionize.

It’s the first part of what labor leaders described Wednesday as a “new phase“ in graduate workers‘ push to unionize — one that will focus on reaching private agreements with universities, rather than going through the NLRB process to avoid giving the new board a pretext to reverse the NLRB’s 2016 Columbia decision.

Meanwhile, the union leaders sent letters to the presidents of Yale, Columbia, Boston College, the University of Chicago, and Loyola of Chicago demanding that administrators honor recent unionization elections at those schools.

AFT President Randi Weingarten told reporters that the unions will demand college administrations “stop doing the work of anti-union special interest groups“ and “not use the Trump board or the courts to silence these very, very vital workers.”

“What we’ve seen is the same cynical strategy — at Yale, at Harvard, at Boston College,” Weingarten said. “The graduate students have said, ‘Wait a second, you are not going to stop us. We are going to form a union regardless. There is a different way and a better way.‘”

The union leaders pointed to West Virginia — where every teacher in the state went on strike for nine days to convince state lawmakers to give them a 5 percent raise — as evidence of “a real push and presence of working people and of students to stand up and say we won’t be denied, you have to listen to us.”

The labor groups said they’ll throw their full support behind graduate workers, including offering up their research abilities, political connections and members on the ground to help organize.