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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.

Governor DeWine Signs Bill Tolling Statutes of Limitations During COVID-19 Emergency Period

During his March 27, 2020 press conference on Ohio’s ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19, Governor Mike DeWine officially signed House Bill 197 into law. HB 197, which passed the Ohio House and Senate with unanimous bipartisan support, contains important provisions affecting the legal rights of litigants whose claims may be subject to the statutes of limitations enacted under the Ohio Revised Code.

Is Insurance Available for Coronavirus Losses?

The shutdown of non-essential businesses in Ohio and other states, as well as the economic impacts caused by the coronavirus, are forcing businesses to evaluate all options to keep their doors open and their staff employed. Many businesses are asking whether their insurance policies provide for the recovery of lost business income and expenses due to the coronavirus.

Exempt Organizations: Form 990s Due May 15 Have Not Been Extended

Although the IRS has automatically postponed the filing and payment deadline from April 15, 2020 until July 15, 2020 for most taxpayer returns, the IRS notice specifically does not apply to any Federal informational return.

UPDATE: COVID-19 Considerations for the Construction Industry

The implications of COVID-19 for the construction industry are significant and rapidly evolving, since Governor Mike DeWine instructed Ohioans to “stay at home” via Order (the “Order”) effective March 23, 2020.

FFCRA Update: Implementation Date Accelerated from April 2 to April 1

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18, 2020, and provides several responses to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including providing for free coronavirus testing, giving a boost to funding for state unemployment compensation (subject to states waiving work search requirements and the waiting week), and leave for employees affected by coronavirus through the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The FFCRA also provides refundable tax credits for employers providing the required paid family and sick leave to employees in connection with this public health emergency.