Georgetown University officials will allow graduate students to vote this spring on whether to form a union, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Graduate students will hold an election to determine if the American Federation of Teachers union can represent graduate employees in official negotiations with the university. The moves comes after Georgetown officials initially refused to support the unionization effort in December, according to The Post.
Georgetown’s decision to allow a unionization vote is in sharp contrast to GW officials, who said last month that they would not recognize a graduate student union because graduate teaching and research assistants work as part of their educational experience at GW.
The Georgetown agreement will allow graduate students to determine whether or not to form a union without going through the National Labor Relations Board, which ruled in 2016 that graduate workers can organize. But the NLRB has historically been more resistant to student unions under Republican presidential administrations.
“We’re extremely happy with this agreement,” Kevin Carriere, a member of Georgetown’s graduate student alliance, told The Post. “It ensures we get our vote and brings Georgetown to the bargaining table once we win.”
Georgetown Provost Robert Groves and Edward Healton, the school’s executive vice president for health sciences, said in a statement that the agreement establishes the “framework” to recognize that the relationship between graduate students and the university is “fundamentally educational,” but also address students’ desire to have a “stronger voice in the terms of their service” as university employees.