Scott, Nadler and 67 Members of Congress Applaud NLRB’s Columbia University Decision

Sep 26, 2016 Issues: Civil Liberties, Education and Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision, regarding Columbia University, which restored the right of research assistants (RAs) and teaching assistants (TAs) to form unions and collectively bargain, 69 members of Congress, led by Representatives Bobby Scott (Va-03) and Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), issued a statement urging private universities and colleges to ensure that TAs and RAs can fully and freely exercise these statutory rights, without interference, delay, or coercion. The Columbia University decision found that TAs and RAs are both students and employees providing essential services under the direction of the University, who receive compensation for the performance of their work. Thus, they are also statutory “employees” entitled to the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Full text of the statement below:

“As Members of the U. S. House of Representatives, we recognize the invaluable role our colleges and universities play in strengthening the economy and our democracy. Our public and private universities are economic engines, serving as large employers, and their research arms often bring millions of dollars of investment while spurring innovations and breakthroughs. Universities are also designed to be democratic institutions where academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of association thrive.

“We applaud the recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board in Columbia University because:

  • This decision restores legal protection to the rights of teaching assistants and research assistants (TAs and RAs) at private universities to freely associate and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.
  • While they are students, both TAs and RAs are also employees providing essential services under the direction of the University, and they receive compensation for the performance of their work. Thus, they are also statutory “employees” entitled to the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
  • The Board explicitly stated that RAs have the right to bargain collectively when the University exerts the requisite control over RAs’ work and they are paid for their research activity, without regard to the funding source.

“Year after year, outstanding scholars from world-renowned colleges and universities go on to become the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors, creators, academics, and more. The robust debate and intellectual freedom that are the hallmarks of our academic institutions have led to the scientific and technological advancements that help keep our nation great.

“Collective bargaining between university administrators and the representatives chosen by TAs and RAs will provide an orderly process by which these employees can seek to improve their wages, hours, and working conditions. This will allow both parties to resolve employment disputes in a manner that is consistent with the traditions of academic freedom and the highest-quality teaching, learning, and research. 

“The NLRA guarantees the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. To ensure the full and free exercise of these statutory rights, we urge administrators at our nation’s private universities to commit to the following: 

  • Refrain from taking any actions for the purpose of delaying the TAs’ and RAs’ right to choose a collective bargaining representative, and
  • Ensure a free and fair election on unionization by creating a climate free from coercion and intimidation.   

“We urge both university administrators and the representatives of TAs/RAs to commence good-faith negotiations for a contract immediately upon a majority vote in favor of union representation.

“Sincerely,

ROBERT C. "BOBBY" SCOTT

Ranking Member

Committee on Education and the Workforce

JERROLD NADLER

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet

 

NITA M. LOWEY

Member of Congress

 

 

BRIAN HIGGINS

Member of Congress

PAUL TONKO

Member of Congress

 

 

GRACE MENG

Member of Congress

 

SEAN PATRICK MALONEY

Member of Congress

 

 

KATHLEEN M. RICE

Member of Congress

NYDIA M. VELÁZQUEZ

Member of Congress

 

 

YVETTE D. CLARKE

Member of Congress

 

JOSÉ E. SERRANO

Member of Congress

 

 

CAROLYN B. MALONEY

Member of Congress

 

JOSEPH CROWLEY

Member of Congress

 

 

GREGORY W. MEEKS

Member of Congress

 

HAKEEM S. JEFFRIES

Member of Congress

 

 

LOUISE MCINTOSH SLAUGHTER

Member of Congress

CHARLES B. RANGEL

Member of Congress

 

 

STEVE ISRAEL

Member of Congress

WILLIAM R. KEATING

Member of Congress

 

 

KATHERINE M. CLARK

Member of Congress

JAMES P. MCGOVERN

Member of Congress

 

 

 

NIKI TSONGAS

Member of Congress

 

STEPHEN F. LYNCH

Member of Congress

 

 

SETH MOULTON

Member of Congress

 

JOSEPH P. KENNEDY, III

Member of Congress

 

 

MICHAEL E. CAPUANO

Member of Congress

 

ROBERT A. BRADY

Member of Congress

 

 

JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY

Member of Congress

 

LUIS V. GUTIÉRREZ

Member of Congress

ROSA L. DELAURO

Member of Congress

 

 

JAMES A. HIMES

Member of Congress

JOE COURTNEY

Member of Congress

 

 

ELIZABETH H. ESTY

Member of Congress

JOHN B. LARSON

Member of Congress

 

 

ZOE LOFGREN

Member of Congress

JUAN VARGAS

Member of Congress

 

 

ALAN S. LOWENTHAL

Member of Congress

 

 

JUDY CHU

Member of Congress

 

ERIC SWALWELL

Member of Congress

 

MICHAEL M. HONDA

Member of Congress

 

 

MARK DESAULNIER

Member of Congress

JERRY MCNERNEY

Member of Congress

 

 

ANNA G. ESHOO

Member of Congress

NORMA J. TORRES

Member of Congress

 

 

TED W. LIEU

Member of Congress

 

BRAD SHERMAN

Member of Congress

TONY CÁRDENAS

Member of Congress

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ

Member of Congress

 

 

FREDERICA S. WILSON

Member of Congress

THEODORE E. DEUTCH

Member of Congress

 

 

LOIS FRANKEL

Member of Congress

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

Member of Congress

 

 

RAÚL M. GRIJALVA

Member of Congress

HENRY C. “HANK” JOHNSON, JR.

Member of Congress

 

 

JIM MCDERMOTT

Member of Congress

PETER J. VISCLOSKY

Member of Congress

 

 

JOHN A. YARMUTH

Member of Congress

MARK POCAN

Member of Congress

 

 

ALMA S. ADAMS

Member of Congress

BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN

Member of Congress

 

 

JOHN CONYERS, JR.

Member of Congress

MARCY KAPTUR

Member of Congress

 

 

TIM RYAN

Member of Congress

 

DONNA F. EDWARDS

Member of Congress

 

 

BETTY MCCOLLUM

Member of Congress

 

 

SUZANNE BONAMICI

Member of Congress

GENE GREEN

Member of Congress

 

DONALD S. BEYER, JR.

Member of Congress”

 

 

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