Update on Student Union Vote
July 10, 2017
In May, the University appealed some of the findings issued by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing officer relating to the student unionization election held in November 2016. Specifically, Harvard objected to the hearing officer’s recommendation that the Harvard Graduate Students Union–United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW) be allowed to hold another election if a majority of the votes cast in November 2016, when they are counted, continues to be against unionization. After reviewing Harvard’s appeal, the regional director of the NLRB has concluded that most of the hearing officer’s findings and recommendations should stand and that another election should be held.
In its objection to the election, the HGSU-UAW relied on an NLRB requirement known as the “Excelsior List.” The Excelsior List refers to a 1966 NLRB case, which asserted that because union organizers cannot easily access employees in the workplace, employers must provide the union with a list of home addresses and other contact information for all potential members of the bargaining unit. The HGSU-UAW argues that the voter list that Harvard provided was incomplete and not compliant with the Excelsior List requirement, and that a new election should be held even if the majority of omitted people voted and their votes were counted in the first election.
Contrary to that assertion, however, during the campaign leading up to Harvard’s November 2016 election, paid and volunteer organizers for the HGSU-UAW had unfettered access to students in the defined bargaining unit, across our physical campus and through e-mail, social media, and other communication channels. Students were well-informed, voted in large numbers, and voted against unionization. The University believes strongly that the November 2016 election results, which reflect the votes and voices of the majority of eligible voters, should stand. Harvard will ask the NLRB in Washington, DC, to review the regional director’s decision.
The University is eager to resolve these issues and confirm the outcome of the November 2016 election. We value the contributions made by Harvard’s students and are committed to protecting academic freedom, the integrity of our teaching and research mission, and continually strengthening the experience of our students, who are at the heart of Harvard’s learning, teaching, and scholarship.
Director of Labor and Employee Relations