“I am today announcing that, after careful consideration and consultation, the University will request that the full National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington D.C. review the Regional Director’s decision ordering an election among our teaching assistants, research assistants, and graduate assistants (TA/RA/GAs) to decide whether or not the TA/RA/GAs want to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by the United Auto Workers union.

“Many in the University community have expressed their views on this issue, and we appreciate the feedback we have received from faculty, students and administrators. We have heard from faculty in various schools and representative bodies through multiple meetings as well as via resolutions, e-mails, and letters including a resolution, passed unanimously by the university-wide Faculty Council, recommending that we appeal. Based on this consultative process, our conclusion is that a substantial majority of faculty supports a decision to appeal to the full NLRB. We recognize that there are views on all sides of this issue at New York University, and even differences within schools and departments. Having listened carefully, we are confident that a decision to appeal is the one that is most broadly supported at NYU.

“Let me take this opportunity to explain in more detail the nature of our request for review. It is important to state that even though the University is requesting a review, everyone must assume that the election will go on as planned. If there is any change from the previously announced April 25-26-27 election, the University community will be notified.

“The Regional Director’s decision is the first time that graduate students serving as TA/RA/GAs have been held to be employees subject to unionization under the National Labor Relations Act. We believe it is important that an issue of such importance both for NYU, and for other private universities throughout the country, should be decided by the National Labor Relations Board, which is responsible for determining issues of national labor policy.

“In our view, the Regional Director wrongly described the relationship between graduate assistants and the University as employment ‘akin to that in a traditional business environment,’ and failed to understand that assistantships are designed to provide an educational experience. We also think that he improperly dismissed NYU’s concern that extension of collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants would cause intrusion into areas of educational policy, impeding the University, for example, from making periodic changes such as the recent GSAS financial aid reform.

“Furthermore, even if the full NLRB were to agree with the proposition that graduate assistants are to be deemed employees, it needs to review the Regional Director’s decision to exclude from the unit eligible to vote over 225 graduate assistants in the Biomedical Sciences and research assistants in the departments of Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Neural Science who are funded on external research grants. We believe this exclusion is based on a mistaken view of what these and other students do in performing research for their dissertations, and creates an illogical and potentially damaging division among graduate students.

“At the same time, we are asking that the NLRB stay the election pending a decision on NYU’s appeal. We believe that it would be inappropriate to go forward with an election among the graduate assistants unless and until the Board has decided that they are employees entitled to vote on union representation.

“Under the Board’s rules, the ballots would normally not be counted, in any event, until after NYU’s appeal is decided, even if the election is held next week as presently scheduled. Under these circumstances, the University thinks it is only fair that an election be held among students who are in graduate assistant positions at the time the Board makes a decision, as they will be the ones who are directly affected by the result. In fact, many graduate assistants will be completing their assistantships within a week or two after the election and will be graduating or for other reasons not serving as assistants again. Staying the election will also permit the Board to address in advance the issue of whether many science students have been erroneously excluded from the right to vote, rather than having to order a new election if the Regional Director is held to be wrong.

“Let me thank those of you who voiced your opinions and reiterate that even with this request for review, we should assume that the election is going forward.”

Press Contact

John Beckman
John Beckman
(212) 998-6848