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Grad students can unionize

Impending NLRB Decision Expected To Clear Way For Grad Student Unions At Private Universities

Workers Independent News's picture
Aug 15, 2016

The National Labor Relations board is currently considering a case that may allow graduate students at private universities to form unions.  The Board had previously ruled in favor of graduate students during the Clinton administration, only to reverse itself in 2004.  A new decision is expected by the end of August in a case involving Columbia University and the New School in New York.  Dominated by Obama appointees, The Board is expected to rule that the students have the right to organize and collectively bargain.   Graduate students at many public universities already have union representation as they are governed by state laws instead of the NLRB.  Olga Brudastova, a PhD student at Columbia and an organizer with the Graduate Workers of Columbia University, Local 2110 of the United Autoworkers, says they are looking forward to the impending decision:

[Olga Brudastova]: “Essentially the work that we are doing is very much the same, but somehow we are treated differently.  So, I hope this decision will set it in stone that we are workers as well and that we can negotiation over a union contract.  I strongly believe that having a union contract that will cover, if not all, but most of the possible issues, will really decrease the level of frustration that graduate student workers have in their daily lives.”

Columbia recently announced plans to raise the stipends of graduate students by 17 percent over the next four years, similar to many other private universities which are increasing stipends and benefits for graduate students in the run-up to the NLRB decision.

This article first appeared on, written by JoAnne Powers

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