Advertisement
The VICE Guide to Right Now

Grad Students at Private Colleges Can Now Unionize

In a landmark decision, the feds said graduate students who work as research and teaching assistants should be considered employees.

by VICE Staff
Aug 23 2016, 6:08pm

Get the VICE App on iOS and Android.

The labor movement won a significant victory Tuesday when the feds ruled graduate students at Columbia University who work as teaching and research assistants have the right to unionize, the New York Times reports.

While certain state laws allow teaching and research assistants at many public universities to organize, a 2004 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision held that teaching assistants at Brown University could not unionize because their relationship with the school was "primarily educational," rather than economic.

The board reversed that decision Tuesday, recognizing certain graduate students as employees under federal law. In a 3–1 decision, the majority—all Democrats—decided that students should be treated like workers if the university is paying them for jobs it oversees.

"We are elated that the NLRB has overturned Brown and restored our collective bargaining rights," Paul R. Katz, one of the Columbia graduate students trying to form a union there, told the Times.

Read: Do Workers Need Unions?

Photo via Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust