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Alexander: NLRB Decision to Allow Student Assistants to Unionize “May Destroy Programs that Have Helped Millions Afford an Undergraduate or Graduate Education”

Decision will “force students to fend off aggressive union organizers” and “create confusion for hundreds of colleges and universities”

NASHVILLE, August 23  – The chairman of the Senate labor committee today called the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) policy reversal to now allow “student assistants” at private colleges and universities to unionize a “shameless attempt to increase union membership that may destroy student assistant programs that have helped millions afford an undergraduate or graduate education.”

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said, “Today, the NLRB has again changed its policy to benefit unions by allowing ‘student assistants’ at private colleges to unionize – completely confusing the entire reason students enroll in the first place; if I’m earning a BS or an MBA from Union University in Jackson or an advanced engineering degree from Vanderbilt, my primary purpose and benefit during my time there is to gain the skills I need to launch myself into the career and the future I want – not to garner wages as an employee of the university. The NLRB’s decision is a shameless ploy to increase union membership rather than a genuine attempt to help students – the result may well be colleges ending undergraduate student assistant programs so that 18-year old -freshmen aren’t dealing with union reps rather than focusing on their degree. It will create confusion for hundreds of colleges and universities.”

Today’s decision by the NLRB is a reversal of a 2004 NLRB decision regarding Brown University which held that graduate students who serve in teaching positions at private colleges and universities as they earn their degree are not employees under the National Labor Relations Act. Today’s decision opens the door for any graduate or undergraduate student performing work at the direction of the college or university for which they are compensated to unionize.



For access to this release and Chairman Alexander’s other statements, click here.