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Reed College’s Student Workers Will Be Permitted to Hold Union Election



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Reed College has been directed to permit a subset of its student workers (known as Housing Advisers or HAs) to hold an election to form a union. Reed College opposed an election arguing that: 1) HAs cannot meet the statutory definition of “employee;” and 2) the unit definition should be broadened to include other students serving in similar roles. 

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Regional Director, applying the Columbia University test, rejected Reed College’s arguments holding HAs were employees under the Act because HAs perform a service to Reed College, are subject to its control, and perform their services for payment. The Regional Director also rejected Reed College’s plea regarding the definition of the unit concluding that the HAs’ “community of interest” was too dissimilar from the others because the roles were not interchangeable and each had distinct skills, training, job functions, and reporting structures.

This decision confirms that even with the new Administration, the Columbia University test remains intact. This is not the only labor decision impacting Higher Ed this year: a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board hearing officer recently ruled that graduate students (serving as teaching and research assistants) at Penn State qualify as “employees” under the State’s Act and are permitted to attempt to form a union; and the NLRB has recently ordered Duquesne University to engage in collective bargaining with its adjunct faculty union. 

Stay tuned for more developments in this trending area. Should you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help.