We learned last week that the Trump majority on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is attempting to curtail our status as workers. The NLRB plans to take advantage of the federal rulemaking procedures to revisit our historic 2016 NLRB decision affirming collective bargaining rights for tens of thousands of student employees at US private universities (see more information below).
This latest scheme is a blatant abuse of power and a desperate effort by the current anti-labor NLRB to stop a massive, growing movement of graduate workers organizing in the last few years. In less than three years since the Columbia decision, more than 20,000 workers at 15 major universities have been eligible to vote on unionization, with well over 60 percent of participants voting “union yes!” Trump and the 1% are clearly afraid of our growing movement. We shall not be Trumped!
The NLRB is expected to announce the proposed rule in September 2019. The proposed rule would then be subject to public comment for a period that typically lasts at least 30-60 days after which the NLRB is obligated to review all submitted comments and make any final decision. Many observers believe the whole process could go into the latter half of 2020. Like other NLRB actions, any final rule could also be subject to legal challenge.
What is rulemaking? Federal agencies like the NLRB generally establish rules and procedures in order to fulfill their statutory function. In the case of the NLRB, the rules are intended to govern how to enforce and enact the National Labor Relations Act, a 1935 law established to protect the rights of employees organize and to encourage collective bargaining as a part of the public policy of the United States. The Trump NLRB’s proposal goes far beyond the intended purpose of the rulemaking process. Rather than propose procedures for enforcing the law, as interpreted in the 2016 Columbia decision, they may actually re-write the meaning of the law by negating the Columbia decision.
What can we do? KEEP ORGANIZING!
In the coming months we will provide updates and plans to push back, which may include submitting a comment on the proposed rule, testifying in Washington DC, and other actions we may take right here at Columbia. In the meantime, we must continue to build our campaign to move Columbia administrators to agree to a strong and fair contract. We encourage everyone to get more involved; fill out this form on our website and an organizer will be in touch.
We will not let this nefarious rulemaking process stop us from achieving a contract – a contract that will make our university more just and inclusive for all of us and future graduate student workers. We keep fighting.