NLRB: Yale Grad Students May Vote on Union

January 26, 2017

A National Labor Relations Board regional director has ruled that Yale University graduate students who are teaching assistants may have nine separate votes on unions in various departments. Yale opposed the approach, saying that the graduate students should vote as a group. A statement Yale released Wednesday night reiterated the university's position, but said "we assume that these nine independent elections will proceed." The votes will now take place in the departments of East Asian languages and literatures, English, geology and geophysics, history, history of art, mathematics, physics, political science, and sociology. A majority vote in each department will decide whether there is a union in that department.

Wednesday night's statement, from Lynn Cooley, dean of the graduate school, expressed concern that this approach was "insufficiently democratic, and contrary to the spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration that is such a hallmark of the graduate school."

The union, Unite Here, issued a statement praising the decision. "This moment has been a long time coming," the union statement said. "Winning our elections gives us the legal right to negotiate on the issues that matter to us -- from improved health care and equal pay for equal work to equity for women and people of color and affordable child care."

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