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NLRB Ruling re: Private University Labor Update

Private University Labor Update

Graduate students employed by private universities are permitted to unionize under federal law.

On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued a 3-1 decision in Columbia University that student assistants working a private colleges and universities are statutory employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act. The decision reverses the NLRB’s decision in Brown University 342 NLRB 483.

The NLRB had long held that students who teach at private universities were not employees. In 2000, a Democrat laden Board altered the NLRB’s principle in New York University, 332 NLRB 1205 (NYU) when it held that graduate assistants were employees. In 2004, a Republican led Board in Brown University reconsidered NYU and concluded that the 25-year precedent was correct, and that NYU should be overruled.

The NLRB has swung back to a Democrat majority. That majority reversed Brown University saying it “deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the Act without a convincing justification.”

What does it mean for Private Universities?

The authority to define the term “employee” rests primarily with the NLRB absent an exception within the National Labor Relations Act. For as long as the Board maintains a Democrat majority, graduate assistants will be employees under the NLRA and eligible for all collective bargaining rights.

Being recognized as “employees” gives graduate students the right to organize and collectively bargain the terms and conditions of employment. The main terms and conditions will likely be wages/stipends, health coverage (including family coverage), hours of work, holidays, and paid/unpaid leaves of absence.

The main concern that private university employers may face is an overreaching organizational campaign. All graduate students are not equal, and an employer can challenge the appropriateness of a collective bargaining unit under a “community of interest” evaluation. In determining the community of interest, the similarity in hours, wages, benefits, skills, supervision, terms of employment are the most indicative of mutual interest.

For additional information, please contact the Labor and Employment team.  John N. Childs at (330) 253-1946, Jeffrey C. Miller, at (216) 287-5265.

EFFECTIVE July 24, 2017: USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitions

EFFECTIVE April 3, 2017: USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification.

President Trump’s Effect on the Workplace

When President-elect Trump takes office, what can employers expect? What will be the effect of his presidency on the workplace and workforce? The probabilities and possibilities range from minor to major changes, with both short and long-term effects.

Urine Drug Testing Best Practices

The purpose of this suggested compliance plan is to provide guidance and best practices for prescribers of opiates and benzodiazepines. Compliance with OARRS is required. In addition, urine drug testing (UDT) among pain management physicians, OBGYNs, psychiatrists, and orthopedics is a useful tool that can not only assist in diagnostic and therapeutic decision making, but can also be used as a personal risk reduction tool for those physicians prescribing pain medications.

U.S. Supreme Court Reed Decision: Direct Impacts on Local Sign Regulation

Speaking at today’s Northeast Ohio Law Directors Association monthly meeting, Robert A. Hager, member of the firm Brennan, Manna & Diamond in Akron, will be participating on a panel of experts presenting and analyzing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, wherein the Court struck down as unconstitutional under the First Amendment the Town’s sign ordinance based on it not being content neutral and, therefore, not surviving strict scrutiny under the Court’s test for non-content neutral regulations.