[Excerpt] No discussion of governance in higher education would be complete without a consideration of the role of collective bargaining. Historically, most researchers interested in the subject have directed their attention to the unionization of faculty members. Given several recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that leave open the possibility that unionization of faculty in private colleges and universities may increase in the future, we discuss collective bargaining for faculty in the first section (Leatherman 2000, A16).
Recently, however, attention has been also directed at the unionization of two other groups in the higher education workforce. Activists on a number of campuses have pressed for academic institutions to pay their low-wage employees a living wage, and this has brought attention to the role of staff collective bargaining in academia. In the second section, we present the first empirical estimates of the impact of staff bargaining on staff salaries in higher education.
Finally, the number of public universities in which teaching assistants, and in some cases research assistants, have won the right to bargain collectively began to expand rapidly at the turn of the twenty-first century. A NLRB ruling in 2001 that permitted collective bargaining for teaching assistants at New York University (NYU), led the university in the following year to become the first private one to sign a contract with a union representing teaching assistants. Building on this ruling, graduate assistant organizing campaigns are underway at a number of prestigious private universities. In the third section we address why graduate assistants are increasingly interested in organizing and then present evidence on the effects of graduate student unions on a number of economic variables.