Brown grad students explore potential of forming union

The NLRB ruled in favor of the graduate students’ right to unionize if they choose.
The NLRB ruled in favor of the graduate students’ right to unionize if they choose. | File photo
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that graduate students at Columbia University qualify as employees with the right to unionize, meaning that grad students at Brown University also have that right.

Leaders at Brown University have said that they support the decision from the NLRB and will promote discussions among its graduate students about whether or not they should unionize.

“The Brown University Board held that graduate assistants cannot be statutory employees because they ‘are primarily students and have a primarily educational, not economic, relationship with their university,’” the NLRB said. “We disagree. The board has the statutory authority to treat student assistants as statutory employees, where they perform work, at the direction of the university, for which they are compensated.”

The United Auto Workers made a petition that graduate students should have unionized representation at Columbia University. The NLRB ruled in favor of the graduate students’ right to unionize if they choose.

"The National Labor Relations Board has ruled in a case concerning whether or not graduate students at Columbia University — and by extension other private universities — are employees and eligible to form a union,” the NLRB said. “Brown University will comply with this decision and support graduate students as they consider whether or not it is in their best interest to choose, or not, to form a union and bargain collectively.”

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