AAUP News & Updates
January 15, 2020
Today the AAUP submitted comments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) opposing a proposed rule that would bar many graduate assistants from engaging in collective bargaining. The NLRB takes the stance in its new proposed rule that students who are also teaching or research assistants at private colleges or universities are not employees and are therefore not entitled to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. The AAUP’s comments reject this claim and strongly refute the board’s assertion that “academic freedom” supports the proposed rule.
The AAUP has long supported the union rights of faculty and graduate assistants. In addition to the other benefits it provides, collective bargaining is an effective tool to promote and protect academic freedom. AAUP chapters have established explicit guarantees of academic freedom in their collective bargaining contracts, sometimes incorporating language from the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. These contracts make promises of academic freedom legally enforceable.