In DepthWORKFORCE

Proposed rule deals blow to grad student unions

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Science  27 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6460, pp. 1365
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6460.1365

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Summary

Tens of thousands of graduate students who help teach courses and perform research on private U.S. campuses are not employees with a right to unionize, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an agency tasked with enforcing U.S. labor laws. If the rule proposed last week by NLRB is implemented after the 60-day comment period, it would undercut a recent wave of grad student unionization efforts that have pressed universities for better pay, benefits, and protections for their workers. The key issue is whether the teaching and research that graduate students perform is academic training or whether they are working for their universities and therefore are employees. The proposed rule caps decades of flip flops by NLRB, and will likely be challenged in court.

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