NLRB & Supreme Court rulings support union representation

Two important legal decisions became public this week, both strengthening the cause of union representation.

The California State Supreme Court declined to take up the latest challenge to teacher tenure rights. Teachers’ unions have argued there was no evidence showing that laws that protect teachers from arbitrary and politically motivated firings have damaged public education in California.

The San Francisco Chronicle quoted CTA President Eric Heins: “When teachers feel protected, they can stand up for their students. It’s a good day for students and for educators.”

In a major victory for graduate students working in private universities, the National Labor Relations Board decided that they have the right to union representation under federal labor law.

This ruling reverses a 2004 ruling that said these workers are primarily students, and therefore not eligible for collective bargaining rights.  That ruling only applied to private institutions; graduate students in public colleges and universities, including the CSU, have long had the right to unionize.

CFA President Jennifer Eagan commented:

“These rights for graduate assistants are long overdue. CSU faculty members who used to be graduate assistants knew full well that we were employees because our ability to eat and pay rent depended on those paychecks. Their work is critical to the university, the future of our disciplines, and to undergraduate students. We congratulate them and are cheering them on in their first efforts to organize.”

See the Inside Higher Ed report: “NLRB: Graduate Students at Private Universities May Unionize.”