After the National Labor Relations Board ruled Monday that New York University (NYU) graduate student teaching assistants have the right to unionize, many Harvard teaching fellows (TFs) said they were satisfied with their situation and doubted that there would be any need for them to unionize.
If it is ultimately upheld by the courts, the ruling will give graduate student teaching assistants at private universities the right to unionize and negotiate with universities over their pay and benefits.
Until the NYU ruling, no graduate students at private universities were unionized, according to a press release from the Federation of University Employees at Yale, where graduate students have been attempting to organize for several years.
NYU argued that because teaching is an integral part of the graduate student learning experience, teaching assistants should not be allowed to bargain collectively--a stance that some Harvard TFs supported.
For example, Steven B. Most, head TF for Psychology 1: "Introduction to Psychology," said teaching had benefits aside from compensation and therefore was not a regular job.
"I think it's good that the teaching they do is work," Most said, referring to the NYU graduate teaching assistants. "But I do think that the teaching itself should be considered a learning experience for the graduate student."
Other TFs, however, said that without the right to organize, they could one day face problems typical of marginalized American workers.
Richard Dearborn, a post-doctoral fellow and head TF for Biological Sciences 1: " Introductory Genetics, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology," said the ruling had his full support.
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