NLRB to decide Harvard grad union status

The National Labor Relations Board will be determining the status of graduate student unionization at Harvard after contested ballots were greater than the margin of votes against it, Inside Higher Ed reports.

The majority of votes of Harvard University students voted against forming a union for teaching and research assistants, but the number of contested ballots is greater than the margin of victory.

The NLRB will be determining the status of the contested ballots and should make a final decision in January. The United Auto Workers unit organizing at Harvard found 1,272 graduate students voted for unionization and 1,456 against, with 314 contested ballots.

"While this news is not what we were hoping for today, our work is not over," the UAW told Inside Higher Ed. "From the beginning, we have had concerns about Harvard's eligible voter list, and we are looking into its potential impact on the election results. We will continue to work to make sure that eligible voters who cast ballots subject to challenge have their votes counted.”

The attempts at unionization come after the NLRB’s August decision ruling that graduate student workers could unionize.

Grad students at Duke University, Northwestern University, St. Louis University, American University, University of Missouri, and Columbia University have all taken steps to form graduate student worker unions.

Bennett Carpenter, a literature PhD candidate and student organizer at Duke, praised the NLRB’s decision.

“It’s going to mean so much that the NLRB is going to recognize what we know as graduate students already, that we are workers and we deserve the same rights and opportunities as other workers, Carpenter told NPR in August.

Campus Reform reached out to Harvard and the NLRB for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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