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Unionizing efforts gain steam at Yale, Harvard ahead of ruling on graduate student bargaining

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Efforts to unionize graduate students at private universities are gaining momentum as the National Labor Relations Board shows new openness to arguments that they are not just students, but also school employees.

A union for teaching assistants is in place at only one private U.S. school, New York University. The administration there gave its blessing in 2013.

Since then, organizing campaigns have sprouted or gained new life at other major northeastern universities, including Yale, Harvard and Columbia. Students and schools nationwide are closely watching the NLRB following its recent decision to reconsider its decade-old ruling that graduate student at private schools are not entitled to collective bargaining.

Graduate students already have unionized at many public universities, which are subject to state labour laws and not the National Labor Relations Act.