106 Iowa L. Rev. 1393 (2021)
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While much ink has been spilled about graduate students’ status as statutory employees in the wake of the NLRB’s decision in Columbia University, little attention has been paid to another group of students who gained the right to unionize because of that decision: undergraduate students. This Note examines how that ruling has impacted undergraduate efforts to unionize at three separate institutions. It argues that any new rule the Board devises related to student unionization should not exclude undergraduate students from the NLRB’s jurisdiction. Because oncampus undergraduate student workers do not perform work that is required for their studies and participate in a substantial economic relationship with their university, they are sufficiently distinguishable from graduate students such that any of the policy-based reasons for excluding graduate students lose much of their force when applied to this context. Any further policy-based reasons for excluding certain categories of workers from NLRB jurisdiction should be empirically based rather than derived solely from definition or from an employee’s secondary purposes, motivations, or statuses. Instead, the Board should observe the undeniable fact that undergraduate students are workers too.

Monday, March 15, 2021