In March graduate student research and teaching assistants at Boston College filed a petition to join the United Auto Workers union. This may sound peculiar at first glance, but in fact the UAW has organized among graduate student employees for many years. The union already represents TAs and RAs in the University of California/CSU systems, at New York University, Columbia University and even at the University of Massachusetts. The NLRB will set an election date and the student employees will have an opportunity to vote yes or no on the proposal.
This follows a February vote at the University of Loyola at Chicago, where the TAs and RAs voted to join the SEIU, which already represents the university’s adjunct instructors. In the case of the adjunct instructors, the NLRB recently ruled that while most of the faculty enjoy union rights under the National Labor Relations Act, the theology department is shielded from labor board jurisdiction under the religious freedom protections in the First Amendment. We in the Catholic Labor Network urge Loyola to bargain with the theology adjuncts anyway: Catholic Social Teaching protects workers’ right to organize, and that doesn’t go away just because we are fortunate enough to live under a government prizes religious freedom.