This afternoon, Capital reported that The National Labor Relation’s Board has denied a petition from Columbia graduate students to unionize. The group “Graduate Workers of Columbia” began organizing recently on campus to form a union. However, their appeal has been declined based on the precedent of a similar ruling against Brown University. The Board’s regional director, Karen Fernach, wrote that, as graduate students are not “‘employees,’” they cannot collectively bargain. The student group is eligible to file a request for review of the order to the NLRB.
Graduate Workers of Columbia, which would become part of United Auto Workers Local 2110, hopes to appeal the decision by filing for a review of the dismissal order at the national level. According to Local 2110’s president Maida Rosenstein, there is a chance the national board, appointed by President Obama, would side with the students.
Rosenstein continued that there was nothing preventing Columbia “from agreeing to a voluntary process” with the graduate students. However, in a written statement from a Columbia spokesperson, the university expressed its belief that “treating students as employees could adversely affect their educational experience,” in echo of PrezBo’s January statement to Capital that graduate students are “students, not…employees.”