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The NLRB and Graduate Student Unions


I was genuinely shocked that the Trump National Labor Relations Board didn’t target graduate student unions at private institutions sooner than it did. For several presidencies now, Democrats have ruled that graduate students are workers and Republicans have ruled that they not. After the Obama NLRB ruled that they are workers, there was real progress made at elite institutions such as Harvard and Brown. I figured those schools weren’t fighting the union too hard for once because they were relying on Trump to dump it for them without the bad publicity it would bring. In fact, I still in my heart believe it is true. But it wasn’t until last year that the Trump NLRB got around to it and it was too late. The Labor Department has withdrawn its case against the graduate student unions. What this means is that even if a Republican administration took over in 2025 (God forbid), graduate students at private schools will then have a decade of unionization under their belt, making it harder to overturn the law simply because a history of contracts will have developed by then. So this is highly encouraging.

I am sure Ira Katznelson is disappointed.

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