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NLRB Extends Public Comment Deadline on Student Unionizing Rule

Nov. 26, 2019, 10:06 PM

The National Labor Relations Board will accept public comments until Jan. 15 on its proposal to take away unionizing rights from students at private universities who work as teaching and research assistants.

The NLRB on Nov. 26 extended its deadline for outside input in its rulemaking that would effectively overturn its 2016 ruling in Columbia University, which granted student assistants at private colleges the right to form unions. Organizing rights at public schools are controlled by state law.

Student organizers held a “national day of action” in opposition to the NLRB’s proposal on Nov. 14, which included a call to submit comments to the board. As of Nov. 26, the board has received nearly 5,800 comments.

In September, the NLRB issued a proposed rule saying that students who receive compensation for teaching or conducting research as part of their studies wouldn’t be considered employees under the National Labor Relations Act. Only employees get the right to unionize and protections from various unfair labor practices under the NLRA.

Unions seeking to represent student assistants pulled their pending cases from the NLRB in 2018, in an effort to deny the Republican-controlled board a case that could serve as a vehicle to overturn Columbia. The board eventually opted to address the issue through rulemaking.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at