NAICU Washington Update

NAICU Joins in Amicus Brief Related to Unionizing Graduate Assistants

December 18, 2015

After conferring with its Legal Services Review Panel, NAICU has joined ACE and four other higher education associations in an amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concerning recent efforts to unionize graduate assistants at The New School. The union, the United Auto Workers, has asked the NLRB to reverse its 2004 decision in a case involving graduate assistants at Brown University, in which the Board determined that graduate assistants are students and not employees.

The amicus brief affirms the principle that “the academic student-teacher relationship is, and should remain, removed from the issues and problems that our labor laws address.”

It is expected that the Board will also take up a pending case involving graduate students at Columbia University when it considers The New School case. The amicus brief addresses that possibility, noting important differences in the facts of the two cases, and highlighting the “need for the Board to engage in case specific adjudication tailored to the facts before it, and to avoid affirmatively searching for an opportunity to overrule Brown….”

The Board is expected to issue its decision on this matter in February.

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