The Chronicle of Higher Education
by Audrey Williams June
May 23, 2019
When it comes to ruling on graduate students’ right to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board has a history of flip-flopping based on which political party controls it.
Democrats have supported grad students’ right to unionize. Republicans have not.
So once President Trump had the opportunity to start appointing Republicans to the board, graduate-student unions whose institutions had refused to bargain collectively made a decision: They would avoid petitioning the NLRB so the agency wouldn’t have the chance to overturn a 2016 ruling that gave graduate students at Columbia University and other private colleges the right to bargain collectively.
That strategy, however, appears to have been a short-term shield. The NLRB announced this week that it planned to propose a rule “to establish the standard for determining whether students who perform services at a private college or university in connection with their studies are ‘employees’” and can form unions. Rulemaking, as it’s called, will allow the labor board to revisit the issue without having to wait for a case to be brought up.