Overturning Brown University, 342 NLRB 483 (2004), the NLRB in a 3-1 decision has ruled that student assistants working at private colleges and universities are statutory employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Columbia University (NLRB 08/23/2016) [Opinion Full Text]
This result has been expected for some time. Now it's official.
[W]e have decided to overrule Brown University, a sharply-divided decision, which itself overruled an earlier decision, New York University, 332 NLRB 1205 (2000) (NYU). We revisit the Brown University decision not only because, in our view, the Board erred as to a matter of statutory interpretation, but also because of the nature and consequences of that error. The Brown University Board failed to acknowledge that the Act does not speak directly to the issue posed here, which calls on the Board to interpret the language of the statute in light of its policies. The Brown UniversityBoard’s decision, in turn, deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the Act, without a convincing justification in either the statutory language or the policies of the Act.
Folks, it all swings on politics. The NLRB is made up of three Democrats and one Republican.