Graduate Student Teachers at Private Universities May Win Right to Unionize

On October 21, 2015, the NLRB decided to consider whether student teachers at private universities are “employees” with the right to form a Union under the NLRA.  The Board will review a decision by the Regional Director of Region 2 that rejected a group of student teachers’ petition to form a union at the New School of New York.

Student employees have been through a roller coaster in recent years at the NLRB.  In 2004 the NLRB rejected student teachers’ right to form a union at New York University, but in recent years the NLRB has indicated that they want to reconsider that ruling.  As you may recall, the Board decided not to exert jurisdiction over a petition by student athletes to form a union at Northwestern University.  (See our previous Labor Law Update about Northwestern at

If the Board finally decides to recognize student workers’ right to form a Union, this would provide an important voice and bargaining power to thousands of student workers who provide the front line teaching at these universities, and are often trying to support families while they get their education.

By Xochitl Lopez | November 6, 2015

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