In cases involving unionization of graduate student research and teaching assistants at private U.S. universities,
the National Labor Relations Board has, at times, denied collective bargaining rights on the presumption that
unionization would harm faculty--student relations and academic freedom. Using survey data collected from
PhD students in five academic disciplines across eight public U.S. universities, the authors compare
represented and non-represented graduate student employees in terms of faculty--student relations, academic
freedom, and pay. Unionization does not have the presumed negative effect on student outcomes, and in some
cases has a positive effect. Union-represented graduate student employees report higher levels of personal and
professional support, unionized graduate student employees fare better on pay, and unionized and
nonunionized students report similar perceptions of academic freedom. These findings suggest that potential
harm to faculty--student relationships and academic freedom should not continue to serve as bases for the
denial of collective bargaining rights to graduate student employees.
Rogers, Sean; Eaton, Adrienne; and Voos, Paula
"Panel: Brown University Redux - Effects of Unionization on Graduate Student Employees: Faculty-Student Relations, Academic Freedom, and Pay,"
Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy:
Vol. 0, Article 35.
Available at: http://thekeep.eiu.edu/jcba/vol0/iss11/35