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2004: Resolution on Graduate Employee Organizing Rights

Cary Nelson, the AAUP's second vice president, presented a resolution that was adopted by the Executive Committee of the Association's Collective Bargaining Congress at its meeting in October 2004, affirming the right of graduate assistants to engage in collective bargaining and decrying the July 13, 2004, decision of the National Labor Relations Board (in Brown University) that graduate assistants at private universities are not "employees." Nelson emphasized the need to defend people's rights to make decisions on collective bargaining without intimidation or coercion, and urged the Council's endorsement of the resolution. The language was amended to add that graduate assistants should be free to decide which organization should represent them. The Council adopted the amended Resolution on Graduate Employee Organizing Rights following the July 13, 2004, decision of the National Labor Relations Board in Brown University. It reads as follows:

WHEREAS graduate students work as graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants in universities and colleges and therefore assume the role of employees in those institutions; and

WHEREAS the work performed by graduate assistants makes significant contributions to the teaching and research missions of colleges and universities; and

WHEREAS the national Council of the American Association of University Professors affirmed in 1998 that graduate assistants, like other campus employees, should have the right to organize to bargain collectively;

Be it RESOLVED that the national Council of the American Association of University Professors decries the July 2004 National Labor Relations Board decision that graduate assistants at private universities are not employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act and are thus not entitled to the protections of that Act; and

Be it further RESOLVED that the national Council of the American Association of University Professors reiterates its call that graduate assistants must not suffer retaliation from administrators or professors because of their activity related to collective bargaining; and

Be it further RESOLVED that the national Council of the American Association of University Professors recommends that the Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University administrations, and the administrations of any universities where graduate assistants seek to form unions, should work out a fair process for graduate assistants to decide whether or not to unionize and which organization should represent them, in an atmosphere free from intimidation and coercion.