Cornell Grad Union Election Too Close to Call

March 30, 2017

The American Arbitration Association declared this week’s graduate employee union election at Cornell University too close to call Wednesday, with 856 votes cast in favor of unionization, 919 against and an additional 81 votes remaining unresolved for now. A final determination is expected next month.

Cornell’s relationship with its would-be union seemed friendly last year, when the parties signed an agreement paving the way for a free and fair election ahead of a major decision from the National Labor Relations Board in favor of graduate student unions on private campuses. But the American Federation of Teachers, with which organizers are affiliated, has since questioned the validity of the election, saying that the Cornell “engaged in a series of election violations that compromised the ability of graduate students to make a free choice.” Allegations of interference include Cornell’s recent announcement that it would cut health-care costs next year for graduate students. AFT says such costs were a key issue in the organizing campaign and moving to reduce them on the eve of the election was an attempt to sway students away from unionization. The university could not immediately be reached for comment.

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