By. Nicholas R. Clements

The National Labor Relations Board (“the Board”) granted review today in a 3-1 vote of two cases – New York University, 356 NLRB No. 7 (2010) and Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Case 29-RC-12054 – which ask whether graduate student assistants are “employees” under Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (“the Act”).  Currently, per the 2004 case Brown University, 342 NLRB 483, graduate student assistants are not considered “employees” under the Act and as a result are prohibited from unionizing.  Instead, their relationships with the colleges and universities with which they are affiliated are considered to be academic versus economic in nature.  A decision by the Board deeming graduate student assistants “employees” under the Act would mark the Board’s third about-face on this issue in 12 years.