"Graduate Teachers are Employees"

It's Official:
Federal Ruling Supports Grad Unionization!

In a landmark ruling today, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that NYU graduate teaching assistants (TAs) are employees with the right to unionize.

NYU is a private university. This ruling establishes a precedent for the entire country. About 20% of all American graduate students are currently represented by unions, until now all at public universities.

For years, the Yale administration has claimed that precedents denying employee-status in other regions were definitive for Yale, even when those precedents involved medical residents. Those precedents have now all been overturned, e.g. the Boston Medical Center case (November 1999).

Additionally, the NLRB has now ruled that graduate teaching assistants in particular are employees. Logically, Yale should now claim that these new precedents are also definitive for Yale (just as it used to claim the old ones were), and should alter its stance on grad unionization.

On March 29, Yale settled a long-standing dispute with the NLRB. In response to graduate teacher organizing activities, Yale agreed to post standard labor board notices affirming the right of all employees to organize and unionize. On the notice, Yale also states, "We will not do anything to interfere with . . . the exercise of these rights." The NYU case establishes that these rights, and Yale's pledge of non-interference, apply to graduate teacher organizing efforts.

"If the Yale administration has any respect for the law, it will accept these new precedents as eagerly as it trumpeted the now-overturned precedents," said Rebecca Ruquist, GESO Chair. "I hope Yale doesn't twist things by heralding older rulings they like but dismissing newer rulings they don't like."

"The question now is," said Amy Ciaschini, GESO Co-Chair, "Will Yale live up to the spirit of these decisions are begin working with its graduate teachers?"


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This page was last updated on: November 5, 1999

Graduate Employees and Students Organization
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