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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.

BMD Appellate Win Clarifies Waiver of Contractual Right to Arbitrate

Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC attorneys David M. Scott, Lucas K. Palmer, and Krista D. Warren prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding if/when a party waives a contractual right to arbitrate. Borror Property Management, LLC v. Oro Karric North, LLC, No. 20-3146 (the “Decision”).

Relief for Ohio Under the Federal American Rescue Plan Act

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Cleveland Manufacturer Violated OFAC Sanctions By Allowing Shipments To Iran - Know Your Customer and Know Their Customer

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Ohio Breach of Contract Statute of Limitations Shortened to 6 Years

On March 16, 2021, Governor DeWine signed into law S.B. 13 which shortens Ohio’s statute of limitations for filing lawsuits based on breach of contract. A statute of limitation is the time period within which a party must file a lawsuit before its claim expires as a matter of law.

Chinese Product Tariff Challenge Causes Flurry of Importer Lawsuits

A lawsuit filed late in 2020 at the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”) challenging the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) implementation of Section 301 “List 3” and “List 4” duties on products from China, HMTX Industries LLC et al. v. United States (Court No. 20-00177), has resulted in the filing of thousands of additional lawsuits brought by other affected importers. There are now 3,700+ companies added to the list, including Ford, Home Depot, Target, Tesla, and Walgreens, along with many other smaller importers.