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Abstract

Academic labor unions will likely become a growing presence on the campuses of private colleges and universities in the years ahead due to three main factors. First, the NLRB has agreed to hear a case involving a petition by the United Auto Workers to represent graduate teaching assistants at The New School, and it is quite likely that the NLRB will reverse past precedent and find that graduate teaching and research assistants will have the right to unionize at private institutions. Second, the Board also issued a highly consequential decision in December of 2014 which will make it exceedingly difficult for colleges and universities to establish that their faculty are collectively managerial employees and therefore without the right to unionize. This decision will open the door to the unionization of many full time contingent faculty and possibly tenure track/tenured faculty themselves. Finally, and perhaps of greatest immediacy, a growing and sprawling movement to organize adjunct and part-time faculty throughout the country has already brought academic collective bargaining to numerous institutions that heretofore only had to deal with the occasional staff union.

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