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Georgetown University and the American Federation of Teachers on Monday announced an agreement under which graduate students at the university will be permitted to vote on whether to have the AFT represent them for collective bargaining. The agreement is notable because some private universities have been vowing to prevent unionization of graduate teaching assistants, saying that they should be viewed primarily as students, not employees. That view has been expected to draw support from the National Labor Relations Board now that it has appointees of President Trump.

The Georgetown agreement is a private one, not involving the NLRB. The agreement specifies topics on which a union, if voted in, could negotiate. As described in this memo from Georgetown, the union could not negotiate on issues of the curriculum, admissions standards or degree requirements. However, the union could negotiate on issues related to hours, benefits, stipends and grievance procedures.

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