Elliot Spitzer certifies that a majority of Columbia’s teaching assistants have joined GSEU and are calling for recognition:
A majority of Columbia University’s graduate teaching and research assistants have indicated they want to form a union, the New York State attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, said yesterday. Mr. Spitzer’s office does not have formal authority over recognizing unions, but the students asked Mr. Spitzer’s office to count the cards they signed in support of a union.
The move was part of a wider campaign of pressure against Columbia. Graduate Student Employees United, a group affiliated with the United Automobile Workers, is seeking to unionize nearly 2,000 graduate assistants at Columbia. But last July, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate assistants at private universities were students, not workers, and therefore did not have the right to form a union, even when a majority wanted one. Despite that ruling, the graduate students’ group is seeking to pressure Columbia into recognizing such a union. Susan Brown, a Columbia spokeswoman, said the university was abiding by the N.L.R.B. ruling.