Collective Bargaining Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Collective Bargaining

The labor laws are encouraging unionization. This is because the state Labor Relations Board determined that the RAs have a right to form / join a union and they are entitled to collective bargaining. At the same time, the university is recognizing the union as the legitimate representative for the RAs.

These factors are showing how the law is encouraging everyone to unionize. This is from the state making the legal determination that this kind of organization is legitimate. Despite the fact that they may be students, the RAs are entitled to greater protections under the law. As a result, a secret ballot can be conducted and the students can organize. The decision made this process much easier. This is because they dismissed a petition from the university questioning if the organization was a lawful union.

Moreover, the UAW has been actively involved in working with and representing other employees. These elements are illustrating how the law is favorable towards unions. This is because it recognizes an individual's ability to join these organizations.

The views taken by state are more liberal by including students as people who are entitled to collective bargaining rights. This interpretation is just one indication that the state's laws are designed to encourage someone to join a union and seek out their assistance. Secondly, the fact that these protections were easily provided to other categories of university employees is highlighting this support. Over the course of time, this is resulting in unions having more dominance inside the workplace.


The category surrounding teaching assistants (TAs) is somewhat ambiguous. This is because there have been conflicting rulings as to if these individuals are considered to be students or workers from the National Labor Relations Board. In the 1970s, they ruled that TAs are workers and entitled to collective bargaining rights. This is because the board was mainly Democrat and they took a more liberal interpretation of the law. (Greenhouse, 2004)

For number of schools, this established a precedent which allowed TAs to effectively organize. This led to a variety of universities recognizing them as workers and their rights in the process. However, as time went by, many schools challenged this definition and asked the National Labor Relations Board for a new interpretation of these guidelines. (Greenhouse, 2004)

In 2004, they reversed their previous decision and determined that TAs are not workers. Instead, they are students, who are not entitled to collective bargaining rights under the law. After making the ruling the Board said, "The previous decision in the N.Y.U. case overturned over 30 years of determinations by the National Labor Relations Board on whether graduate students who worked as teaching and research assistants were students or employees. And it threatened the traditional relationship between colleges and their graduate student assistants." (Greenhouse, 2004)

This is showing how TAs are considered to be workers under the more liberal interpretations of labor laws. However, the time that is spent working and their importance to the functions of universities are indicating that these individuals are paid employees. This is because they devote a number of hours in helping to perform vital operations for the school and staff. (Greenhouse, 2004)


Yes. This is because an effective argument can be presented that the university is recognizing employee collective bargaining rights. The fact that they are allowing others to fall into this category, is a sign that they accept these provisions. The issues with TAs and graduate students are illustrating that they do not recognize this group, their contributions or the added expenses.

Those universities with a high union density rates, are more than likely to take an accepting approach when it comes to unions. This is because these organizations are dominant at these schools in contrast with other colleges. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that most universities have a unionization rate of 36.0% nationally. This is considerably higher than the private sector (which is at 9.9%). ("Economic News Release," 2012)

In those schools with greater levels of union support, there are more liberal attitudes towards these organizations. This is because they are so dominant that the university has to accept these practices and how they operate. Over the course of time, this means that administrators are more willing to allow these entities to expand and protect other segments.

When this is compared with schools that have lower numbers of unionized employees, they are less cooperative and supportive. This is from the administration believing that collective bargaining laws and liberal interpretations are hurting their ability to control costs (which is impacting quality). They want to reduce their influence in this process and are opposed to expanding the union any way.


The biggest factors that led to the RAs wanting union representation is from the poor working conditions they are exposed to. This is because the university is taking an aggressive attitude towards enforcing strict policies and rules. The turnover rates of RAs have increased to 55%. In response to these challenges, the administration established grievance committees. They were designed to deal with these problems. However, they were ineffective in making any kind of binding decisions and increased the divisions / animosity inside the university. The combination of these factors created an environment that is hostile to the RAs. The fact they were not treated fairly only added to the support for a union representing their interests. As most people felt, that the administration does not understand their problems and have no effective strategies for addressing them.

As a result, the RAs do have legitimate job concerns. This is because they are working with the university to improve the living environment for everyone. Moreover, they are provided with compensation for these services. This means that RAs are entitled to greater protections inside the workplace and a process that is addressing their issues. At the same time, the high turnover rates are indicating that something is wrong with the way current policies and procedures are applied. This is a sign that the university is overly enforcing its provisions to the point that most people will leave. Those who stay are frustrated by the lack of transparency and openness in having their grievances heard. These challenges are forcing them to support collective bargaining and how it is applied.


Yes, the RAs that are opposed to unionization do have legitimate concerns. This is because the administration could engage in some form of retribution against those who supported the union. In the future, this will make it difficult for the school to hire RAs and it creates a large bureaucracy. This is challenging in addressing critical issues and grievance by having an organization which is creating divisions. When this happens, there is a possibility that the school could outsource this function to private firms and abandon the RA program.

For example, in many states the right to collective bargaining for public sector employees is being revoked or revised. This is because unions are hurting the capacity of firms to adjust with the changes they are facing inside the marketplace. It is a tool that is hindering them in reaching critical objectives. This is problematic, as the university could question the legality of collective bargaining and the purpose of the union. If this were to take place, they may outsource critical functions to third party providers. (Olafson, 2011)

The way that unionization will change residence hall life is by creating clear divisions between university officials and staff. This means that there will be an atmosphere of animosity which will hurt the environment. At the same time, there is the possibility that many students could opt to live on their own inside the community. This is because they feel that the atmosphere is not supportive and they are tired of the division between university officials and RAs.


The union recognition for public employees is taking a more liberal interpretation as to who is classified as a worker. Evidence of this can be seen with the basic definition of an employee under the NLRA which says, "The term 'employee' shall include any employee, and shall not be limited to the employees of a particular employer. This includes any individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, any current labor dispute or because of any unfair labor practice, and who has not obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment, but shall not include any individual employed as an agricultural laborer, or in the domestic service of any family or person at his home, or any individual employed by his parent or spouse, or any individual having the status of an independent contractor, or any individual employed as a supervisor, or any individual employed by an employer subject to the Railway Labor Act." ("National Labor Relations Act," 2012)

This is illustrating how RAs are not excluded from the law. As it is specifically defining who is considered to be an employee and what conditions must exist to meet these…

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