Friday, June 22, 2012

Grad Student Organizing: Bye Bye Brown?

NLRBWell, it's now been over a year and a hlaf since the Board ordered a hearing in which it indicated its desire to reconsider Brown University's ruling that grad students aren't employees under the NLRA.  Today, the NLRB announced that it will in fact review this issue in two cases and has invited amicus briefs on the issue.  The invitation for briefs lists these questions:

1. Should the Board modify or overrule Brown University, 342 NLRB 483 (2004), which held that graduate student assistants who perform services at a university in connection with their studies are not statutory employees within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, because they “have a primarily educational, not economic, relationship with their university”? 342 NLRB at 487.

2. If the Board modifies or overrules Brown University, supra, should the Board continue to find that graduate student assistants engaged in research funded by external grants are not statutory employees, in part because they do not perform a service for the university? See New York University, 332 NLRB 1205, 1209 fn. 10 (2000) (relying on Leland Stanford Junior University, 214 NLRB 621 (1974).

3. If the Board were to conclude that graduate student assistants may be statutory employees, in what circumstances, if any, would a separate bargaining unit of graduate student assistants be appropriate under the Act?

4. If the Board were to conclude that graduate student assistants may be statutory employees, what standard should the Board apply to determine (a) whether such assistants constitute temporary employees and (b) what the appropriate bargaining unit placement of assistants determined to be temporary employees should be?

The notice also states that "[b]riefs not exceeding 50 pages in length shall be filed with the Board in Washington, D.C. on or before July 23, 2012. The parties may file responsive briefs on or before August 6, 2012, which shall not exceed 25 pages in length. No other responsive briefs will be accepted. The parties and amici shall file briefs electronically at If assistance is needed in filing through, please contact the undersigned."

Much more to come on this later . . . . 


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