Georgetown University Slaps Down Graduate Student Attempt To Unionize

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Georgetown University declined to recognize a graduate student union, asserting that teaching assistants are students and not workers, according to a Wednesday report.

The school indicated that they wanted to enhance the experience of graduate students, but not by allowing them to unionize, according to The Washington Post.

“We believe that a graduate student’s relationship with the University is fundamentally an educational one,” stated Robert M. Groves and Edward B. Healton, Georgetown’s provost and executive vice president for health science, respectively, in a letter to the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees. “Our relationship with the students conducting research and doing teaching assistantships is one of faculty and student, mentor and mentee. This relationship is not, fundamentally, one of employer and employee.”

Georgetown has ramped up doctoral stipends in the last five years, added campus graduate student spaces, and added to the number of recognition awards for graduate teachers and researchers, Groves and Healton noted.

The school’s decision mirrors that of Boston College, Columbia University, and Yale University, that have all criticized the National Labor Relations Board for allowing research and teaching assistants to unionize. Several Ivy League institutions cautioned students interested in unionizing that doing so could restrict their civil liberties, particularly when the union gets to speak for all of its members.

“Georgetown has decided to side with the Trump Administration, reject their Jesuit values, and disregard their Just Employment Policy,” said the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees on Facebook, alleging the school’s decision does not align with labor law. “We are continuing as expected with this process, and, with our legal representation from the American Federation of Teachers, will file our petition with the National Labor Relations Board and call for an election, as is our right under current law.”

The group will hold a rally Thursday.

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