Research and teaching assistants at New York University (NYU) last week moved one step closer to regaining their rights under federal law to form a union and bargain for improvements at work.
Graduate assistants won a major victory in 2010, when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new hearing on a ruling, which had prevented some 1,800 graduate assistants at NYU from voting for union representation. The board based its ruling on a 2004 NLRB decision that graduate teaching and research assistants were not employees and could not form a union.
Last week, in the NLRB-ordered hearing, acting NLRB Regional Director Elbert Tellem accepted the key claim presented by the assistants, members of Graduate Student Organizing Committee/UAW (GSOC/UAW Local 2110), that they are university employees.
“This decision clearly recognizes that we are employees, who work for and receive compensation from NYU,” said Jan Padios, a teaching assistant in NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis.
We’re glad we got a timely ruling. Now we’re going to take this case to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., and claim our rights as workers.
UAW President Bob King praised the NYU employees’ resolve.
Our members at NYU have been an amazing example for all of us in the UAW. A very narrow, very partisan decision by the labor board in 2004 tried to strip them of their rights, but these workers know better. They’re standing firm, and we’re proud to stand with them.
Because of precedent of the 2004 decision, the case now goes to the full NLRB.
The NYU teaching and research assistants have repeatedly demonstrated majority support for their union, most recently verified in April 2010 by the American Arbitration Association. The student employees held a mass rally in April 2010 where a large majority of the students signed the petition to the NLRB (see video above).