A National Labor Relations Board official ruled on Wednesday that Boston College’s Graduate Employees Union may hold an election on establishing collective bargaining rights for graduate student employees. Graduate student employees in the theology department and the School of Theology and Ministry will not be eligible to participate in the election or a collective bargaining agreement with BC that could result, according to the decision.
Union organizers had initially expected the NLRB to rule earlier this month or late last month, in the hopes that an election could be held before the end of the semester. John J. Walsh, regional director for Region 1 of the NLRB, wrote that the date, time, and manner of the election is still to be determined.
The union filed a petition for an election with the NLRB on March 3. BC argued in hearings that the NLRB lacks jurisdiction over the relationship between BC and its graduate employees, who it argued are primarily students and not employees. BC also argued that even if it did not receive an institutional religious exemption, its theology and philosophy students should not participate in the election or possible collective bargaining agreement. Theology students were exempted from the NLRB’s jurisdiction, Walsh ruled, but philosophy students were not.
University Spokesman Jack Dunn said in an email that BC is currently reviewing the decision, which stipulates that BC must provide Walsh and the union with “a list of the full names, work locations, shifts, job classifications, and contact information (including home addresses, available personal email addresses, and available home and personal cell telephone numbers) of all eligible voters” by May 24.
In order to obtain collective bargaining rights with BC, the union must receive a majority of votes in the election. Organizers have said they believe they already have greater than 50 percent support.
“We are thrilled about turning to our election, and are looking forward to having a seat at the bargaining table,” said Betsy Pingree, a first-year Ph.D. student in history, in a statement posted on the union’s website.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor