NLRB Rules Against Harvard in Graduate Student Unionization Appeal

By PHELAN YU, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Harvard may have to hold a new election to determine whether eligible students can form a union after the National Labor Relations Board ruled against the University’s appeal Tuesday.

Harvard had appealed a previous NLRB decision requiring the University to hold a new election, arguing that the results of the Nov. 2016 election—the initial results of which showed more students voting against unionization than in support of it—should stand. Since August, the federal NLRB—a panel of presidential appointees—had weighed the University’s appeal, and on Tuesday decided to uphold the previous NLRB ruling that the election results were invalid.

Months of controversy and legal challenges roiled last year’s student unionization election as union advocates charged that Harvard had not provided the proper voter lists before the election. At stake is whether or not eligible graduate student researchers and teaching assistants and undergraduate teaching assistants at Harvard can collectively bargain with the University.

Representatives from the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Automobile Workers were quick to celebrate the decision. Some union advocates had worried that the NLRB’s majority Republican membership would sink their chances after more than a year of legal challenges.

“We’re excited to have a new election,” said Andrew Donnelly, a graduate student and union organizer.

In an emailed statement, University spokesperson Anna Cowenhoven did not comment on whether Harvard will hold a new unionization election.

“The University continues to believe the November 2016 student unionization election was fair and that well-informed students turned out in high numbers to vote. It is disappointing that the NLRB has not upheld our students’ decision to vote against unionization in that election,” she wrote.

In a press release, Julie Kushner, Region 9A Director of the United Automobile Workers, wrote that the NLRB’s ruling was an encouraging development.

“This is another great victory for graduate workers in the UAW and a shot in the arm to this growing movement,” Kushner wrote.

Reposted from The Harvard Crimson

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