For over 15 years, graduate assistants have fought for their right to unionize. In the past, graduate students who work as adjunct professors or research assistants were under no legal obligation to be afforded the same rights as their academic colleagues. That is, until Columbia University’s students stepped up to plate in August and petitioned for workers rights. In a vicious cycle of expiration and re-authorization, these contracts between private institutions have rarely lasted. However, these academic employees are now protected under federal labor law as of August of 2016. Just in time for classes.

“…A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board now requires private universities to bargain with graduate-employee labor unions over compensation and working conditions.”, as quoted from an article on linked below. This now grants them more than just the previous annual stipend. Graduate assistants are now federally protected and are given healthcare, a salary subject to raise, and all other rights available by graduate labor unions.

These petitions have normally come down from private and ivy league institutions, and whether or not it will effect public graduate schools remains to be seen. N.Y.U was the first private university to let their graduate students unionize in 2001, and then it trickled down to other ivy league colleges. After the revocation of this right by the NLRB in 2004, the legal yo-yo bounced back in the favor of graduate students this summer.

Unions Knocking on the Academy’s Doors
Unions in the Ivory Tower
Grad Students Win Right to Unionize in an Ivy League Case
GRAD STUDENT UNION: Ruling from NLRB clears the way