Solidarity with Graduate Student Workers

By Kelly Hand

Last fall, the AAUP’s Committee on Graduate and Professional Students issued a statement of solidarity with the #WeAreWorkers day of action that took place on October 15 at campuses around the country. The purpose of the day of action was to affirm the rights of all graduate student workers, in both public and private institutions, to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers.

The #WeAreWorkers day of action and social media campaign protest the 2004 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling, involving Brown University and the United Auto Workers (UAW), that determined graduate students would not be considered employees and were not entitled to collective bargaining rights. This decision overturned a 2000 ruling, which declared graduate teaching assistants eligible for collective bargaining as employees, in a case between New York University and the UAW.

Just over a week after the October 15 day of action, the NLRB agreed to reconsider the employee status of graduate students in private universities by accepting a case between the New School and the UAW. Consistent with its long history of supporting graduate students, the AAUP intends to submit an amicus brief in the case.