Graduate student employees at Duke University on Tuesday withdrew their petition to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. The union organizing committee in a statement said the move was “not a decision to quit fighting — rather, it is a recognition that the source of our strength is not lawyers or litigation, but our collective knowledge, power and experience as graduate student workers.”
Vote counting for a recent union election at Duke was delayed over some 500 challenged ballots. The preliminary tally, not counting those disputed votes, was 398 for and 691 against unionization.
The National Labor Relations Board decided in August that graduate student employees on private campuses are entitled to collective bargaining. Since then, a union vote at Harvard University proved inconclusive, while a majority of voting departments at Yale University approved "micro-unit" union bids. Students at Columbia University and Loyola University at Chicago voted to form unions.