In an effort to resolve a hotly debated legal issue spanning decades for private college and university employers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently released a proposed rule that would effectively block college students from unionizing.

The proposed regulation seeks to establish that undergraduate and graduate students who perform services, including teaching or research, for compensation in connection with their studies are not “employees” as defined under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The basis for the proposed rule is that the relationship these students have with their school is predominately educational rather than economic.

In announcing the proposed rule, NLRB Chairman John F. Ring stated: “In the past 19 years, the Board has changed its stance on this issue three times. This rulemaking is intended to obtain maximum input on this issue from the public, and then to bring stability to this important area of federal labor law.”

This is not a done deal, but the Republic majority NLRB will remain intact long enough to project a more than likely chance the proposed rule becomes final. The NLRB invites public comments on all aspects of the proposed rule, which must be received on or before November 22, 2019. Interested universities should consider filing a comment with the NLRB to make sure their voice is heard on this important issue.

We will continue to monitor developments concerning the proposed rule. As always, Murtha lawyers are available to discuss compliance with the NLRA and other relevant employment laws.