Georgetown Grad Students: School Agrees to Union Election

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By Jaclyn Diaz

Georgetown University agreed to participate in a plan by graduate students to hold a union election that will not be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees announced on Twitter Feb. 2.

After meetings between the union and school attorneys this week, Georgetown told GAGE that it would agree to a third-party election, Luca Soldaini, a student organizer, told Bloomberg Law. The university and union haven’t signed an official agreement, however. Details of how and when the election will be held still need to be worked out, but the goal is to get the election completed in the next couple of months.

The school also told the union that it would recognize the results, no matter the outcome of a court case involving graduate students at Columbia University, Soldaini said.

Columbia said Jan. 30 that it won’t engage in collective bargaining with graduate students who won a unionization vote and will instead ask a federal appeals court to take up the issue. This opens the door for the NLRB to overturn a 2016 decision that said graduate student workers are employees with organizing rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Georgetown didn’t provide a comment directly addressing the union’s announcement, instead referring Bloomberg Law to Jan. 9 comments acknowledging its intention to hold discussions with the union over a third-party election.

GAGE, a group of graduate students affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, asked Georgetown in November to voluntarily recognize it as the collective bargaining unit for certain graduate students on the main and medical campuses. The school refused to recognize the group without a formal NLRB election. It argued the students’ relationship with the university is fundamentally an educational one, not one of an employer and employee.

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