Bloomberg Law
Feb. 14, 2018, 3:18 PM

Chicago Grad Workers Drop Union Bid, Other Campuses to Join

Jaclyn Diaz
Jaclyn Diaz

The union of graduate student workers at the University of Chicago has withdrawn its petition to represent the students, a union representative told Bloomberg Law Feb. 14.

The Graduate Students United in Chicago withdrew the petition out of concern their case could be overturned by the NLRB and that the board would use its case to overturn the 2016 Columbia decision, which allowed graduate student workers to organize at private universities. The union is hoping to negotiate directly with the school in an attempt to avoid the NLRB, Chaz Lee, a GSU representative, said.

Taking this path, with the goal of negotiating a contract with administrations directly, is part of a new concerted effort among other graduate student unions across the nation, Lee said. Other unions are concerned that a GOP-led board could overturn the Columbia decision and have been discussing ways to avoid the NLRB.

The union won a National Labor Relations Board representation election in October, but the University of Chicago had appealed those results. On Feb. 9 the school released a statement standing by its position that a union for graduate workers would be bad for its relationship with the students.

“We’ve been in direct contact with other locals in the past week,” he said. He did not divulge which schools are also looking to withdraw petitions as some are not prepared to go public yet, he said.

UNITE HERE Local 33 which sought to represent graduate students at Yale University dropped its bid Feb. 12.

“You will definitely be seeing a concerted effort across the nation in direct response to university administration’s choice to work with the Trump NLRB rather than choose to work with graduate students,” Lee said.

A representative for the University of Chicago didn’t respond immediately to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at