Grad Students Get OK To Unionize At Columbia In Harlem

Columbia-University-grad-students-Ian-Bradley-Perrin-and-Olga-BrudastovaThe National Labor Relations Board has ruled that student teachers and research assistants at private universities are employees and have a right to be represented by unions.

The 3-1 ruling Tuesday overturns a 2004 NLRB ruling that said graduate students were not employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

Tuesday’s decision in a case involving graduate students at West Harlem’s Columbia University potentially affects graduate students at hundreds of private colleges and universities throughout the U.S.


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Olga Brudastova, a graduate research assistant in civil engineering at Columbia, said she looks forward to “a speedy, fair election,” told source.

Columbia said in a statement that it disagrees with the ruling because the relationship students have with faculty members as part of their studies “is not the same as between employer and employee.”

Brooks left the comment saying, “The vast majority of graduate assistants–if not all– in American universities/colleges receive a full ride, i.e., FULL academic scholarships/grants and a stipend. These are privileges the vast majority of students do not receive. What labor “rights” do they need? Having worked in higher education for nearly 40 years, and knowing the system of scholarship, grants, assistantships, etc., I totally strongly agree with Columbia’s statement. You will now see a major reduction of assistantships throughout the country.”

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