Home Backtrack

NLRB Says Graduate Students are Employees for Unionization Purposes

Published:  August 26, 2016

The legal landscape changed dramatically this week in academia after the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision granting graduate students the legal right to unionize.  This decision means that universities will now be forced to bargain with graduate groups when previously there was no such obligation.  The 3 to 1 decision arose out of a petition from a group of graduate students at Columbia University seeking to join the United Auto Workers and reverses decades of prior rulings, which had held that students were not employees. This week’s decision could have far-reaching implications in higher education (and beyond).  As a direct result of the ruling, and given the number of graduate students throughout the United States, union organizing campaigns could gain some momentum.  The ruling could also be expanded to include undergraduate students who are in work-study programs.  Further, the ruling could be used to support the conversion of other traditionally non-employment relationships into employment ones.

If your organization has any questions about this ruling, or wants to discuss strategies pertaining to best management practices and union avoidance generally, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal, P.C.