In Victory for Union Efforts, NLRB Rules Columbia U. Grad Students Are Employees

In a long-awaited decision, the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday ruled that graduate students at Columbia University are employees and can form a union. The decision reverses a previous board decision involving a case at Brown University, which, a majority of the board said on Tuesday, “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the [National Labor Relations Act] without a convincing justification.”

The decision, by a vote of 3 to 1, has big implications for graduate students at private colleges, whose unionization efforts have been impeded by the 2004 Brown decision, which asserted that they were not employees. Graduate assistants at public colleges are subject to their states’ labor laws.

The board agreed in December to hear the Columbia case, reversing a regional official’s decision months earlier not to hear it.

Here’s the new decision.

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