May 26, 2016

Employment Law Alliance’s Higher Education Council Files Amicus Brief with NLRB in Graduate Workers of Columbia v. Trustees of Columbia University

A trio of law firms, representing more than a dozen firm members of the Higher Education Council of the Employment Law Alliance (ELA), have filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. National Labor Relations board in the matter of Graduate Workers of Columbia – GWC, UAW v. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Counsel of record for amici includes HK’s Natasha Baker.

In Graduate Worker of Columbia, the NLRB has the power to deem graduate assistants at private universities statutory employees for the purpose of organizing and collective bargaining. In making this determination, the Board is reviewing whether to modify or overrule its 2004 Brown University decision, which concluded that graduate assistants should not be characterized as statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).

According to Natasha: “More than 1,800 private colleges and universities in the U.S. stand to have the educational and mentoring foundations of the graduate student experience compromised. When it comes to graduate students, we are talking about a fundamentally academic experience. Overturning 30 years of precedent, including Brown, would negatively impact the faculty/student dynamic, prioritizing economic concerns over education.”

A link to the entire brief can be found here.