Harvard University and its would-be graduate student union, affiliated with the United Auto Workers, on Tuesday agreed on terms of a union election, to be held Nov. 16-17. The election agreement is similar to one made between Cornell University and its American Federation of Teachers- and National Education Association-affiliated graduate student union organizers ahead of a major decision in August from the National Labor Relations Board. That decision, which involved a graduate student union bid at Columbia University, paved the way for graduate student unions at private institutions.
Both the Cornell and now Harvard decisions are significant because they signal that the administrations of both institutions will accept the outcome of any union election, and that both sides will avoid potentially lengthy legal oversight by the NLRB. Administrations at some other private institutions have signaled that they will fight graduate student union bids following the NLRB’s August decision. Both teaching and research assistants at Harvard are seeking representation by the UAW.
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