NAICU Washington Update

NLRB Orders Union Election for Undergraduate Library Staff at Univ. of Chicago

June 01, 2017

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director in Chicago has ordered a union election for about 200 undergraduates employed in the University of Chicago’s library.  Voting on whether or not to approve the Teamster-affiliated union will take place between June 2 and June 8. 

The University of Chicago has said it is reviewing the NLRB decision and will consider its options.

This is the second time that an NLRB official has approved a vote to unionize undergraduate employees at a private college or university.  A union election for undergraduate resident assistants at George Washington University was recently approved.  However, the union decided to withdraw its petition, reportedly because the voting would take place during finals week.

In both cases, the regional directors were following the precedent set by the NLRB in its decision last August that found teaching assistants at Columbia University were eligible under federal law to form a union.  In the Columbia case, the majority of the proposed union members were graduate students, but a few of them were undergraduates, and they were specifically included in the Board’s order.

An NLRB official had earlier found undergraduate football players at Northwestern University eligible to form a union, but while the full Board agreed that the football players were eligible employees under the law, it also found that the realities of competition in Division I football made unionization inappropriate.


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