FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2016
BOSTON—The Boston College Graduate Employees Union – United Auto Workers (BCGEU-UAW) joins Columbia Graduate Workers – UAW (GWC-UAW) and thousands of other graduate workers nationwide in celebrating the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that restores union and collective bargaining rights to graduate student workers at private universities.
“It’s very exciting to have the past year of hard work we’ve done organizing graduate employees at Boston College affirmed by the board,” said Nathan Nesbitt, a doctoral student in the Physics department and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. “The decision formally recognizes what graduate employees across our campus already know: that we are simultaneously students and workers who make the university run.”
The NLRB’s decision overturns the Bush-era’s 2004 Brown decision, which stripped graduate student workers at private universities of their right to collective bargaining. “There is no compelling reason—in theory or in practice—to conclude that collective bargaining by student assistants cannot be viable or that it would seriously interfere with higher education,” the board’s decision said.
The NLRB decision cited a recent study demonstrating that “Union-represented graduate student employees report higher levels of personal and professional support, unionized graduate student employees fare better on pay, and unionized and non-unionized students report similar perceptions of academic freedom.”
With support for graduate student unions at unprecedented levels nationwide, graduate workers at Boston College have joined their colleagues at Columbia University, The New School, Harvard University and many others in organizing with the United Auto Workers (UAW) to establish democratic participation in their working conditions.
“All the evidence shows that graduate employee unions have a powerful positive effect not just on the experience of graduate workers, but also on the faculty we work with and the undergraduates we teach,” said Caliesha Comley, a doctoral student in the Sociology department. “We’re really excited that so many of our colleagues at Boston College have already pledged their support for our union here, and look forward to working with the university on making our campus a great place to be a graduate worker.”
The change in the law will allow the Boston College Graduate Employees Union – United Auto Workers (BCGEU-UAW) to file for an election, and will require the BC administration to bargain an employment contract once the union has been certified.
“We’re impressed with the progress Boston College graduate employees have made toward forming their union. The excitement and energy around graduate organizing in the Boston area grows out of not just the NLRB decision, but the real gains made by UAW TAs and RAs at the bargaining table,” said Julie Kushner, the director of UAW Region 9A, which encompasses New England. “We look forward to working with the Boston College graduate employees as they move through the process of building their union.”