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Sanders Introduces Bill to Protect Graduate Workers’ Unions

January 27, 2020

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) introduced a bill Jan. 22 that would prevent the Trump administration from nullifying graduate student workers’ right to unionize. The bill, the Respect Graduate Student Workers Act, would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from implementing a proposed rule that defines student teaching assistants and student research assistants at private universities as primary students, not employees with the right to collective bargaining. The Economic Policy Institute estimated last month that the rule would void the union rights of 57,500 graduate assistants working at private universities, and would prevent more than 1.5 million graduate students from ever forming a union. “For far too long, the trend in our higher education system has been going in the wrong direction: longer hours, lower pay, weaker job security, and more debt,” Sanders said in a statement. “But instead of protecting graduate workers, the National Labor Relations Board is trying to strip them of their rights.” The measure has been endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union, United Automobile Workers, United Steelworkers, and the American Association of University Professors, all of which represent academic workers. Read more

January 27, 2020

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