Worker Advocate Asks Federal Labor Board to Uphold Precedent Disallowing Forced Unionization of Grad Students
Foundation files brief supporting university teaching assistants’ and graduate students’ First Amendment freedom of association
Washington, DC (July 24, 2012) – The National Right to Work Foundation has filed a brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking the Board to uphold its own precedent that disallows union officials from corralling university graduate students into unwanted union affiliation.
Foundation staff attorneys filed the amicus curiae brief with the NLRB in a case involving United Autoworkers (UAW) union organizers' attempts to unionize graduate students at New York University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and ultimately force them to pay union dues.
Foundation attorneys argue that universities do not fit the self-styled industrial model of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – the federal law governing private-sector labor relations for non-managerial workers – a conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. Yeshiva University (1980).
Foundation attorneys disassemble the union lawyers' arguments for new precedent that would establish teaching assistants and other graduate students as employees of a university, because grades are the central form of compensation for graduate students who are paid to teach, research, or perform temporary work. Foundation attorneys further question whether grades would ultimately become a mandatory subject of monopoly bargaining if paid graduate students were treated as employees for purposes of unionization.
"While the UAW may have Marxist dreams that students are 'workers' (as opposed to students), who will be in the vanguard of an economic revolution when the workers of the world unite, the fact remains that graduate students are students and not employees, and have little commonality of interest with most employees," the Foundation pointed out in its brief.
Foundation attorneys also argue that allowing union officials monopoly bargaining power over all teaching assistants would violate the First Amendment freedom of association rights of dissenting teaching assistants, thereby undermining academic freedom.
Earlier this month, Foundation staff attorneys filed a similar brief with the NLRB in a case involving Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh/Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 38061 union organizers' attempt to unionize professors at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.
"Union officials' repeated ham-handed attempts to corral graduate students and university professors into unwanted union affiliation and force them to pay dues for unwanted 'representation' can only be explained as that Big Labor sees the Board’s current makeup favorable to forced unionism," stated Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case shows that union officials will stop at nothing to collect forced dues from anyone possible, even unsuspecting graduate students."