U Missouri Grad Students Can Unionize: State Supreme Court
U Missouri Grad Students Can Unionize: State Supreme Court

U Missouri Grad Students Can Unionize: State Supreme Court

After a series of appeals from the university, Missouri courts have ruled for the third time that students have collective bargaining rights.

Nov 8, 2019
Emily Makowski
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The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected the University of Missouri’s appeal of a case that gives student workers employee status and collective bargaining rights, marking the end of three years of legal back-and-forth on the issue, according to KRCG.

See “Labor Agency Revisits Whether Graduate Students Can Unionize

In April 2016, University of Missouri (UM) graduate students voted to unionize, but UM refused to recognize the results, according to The Columbia Missourian. Graduate students in UM’s Coalition of Graduate Workers filed a lawsuit against the university a month later, reports KBIA

The newest court decision, from October 29, is the third consecutive court ruling against UM. In June 2018, the Boone County Circuit Court ruled that grad students were employees and could unionize. After the university appealed the decision, the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruled in July 2019 that students can be considered employees.

The case will now go to the state trial court, which will decide whether the 2016 union election vote was valid. Although the results are still in question, the decision to give students collective bargaining rights represents a step toward their official unionization.

“The university was using the court system to try and diminish our enthusiasm and delay the inevitable for as long as possible,” Michael Vierling, a graduate student at UM and a co-chair for the Coalition of Graduate Workers, tells The Columbia Missourian. “After three consecutive losses, I think [UM] may finally have enough legal clarification that we are employees.”

See “Federal Agency Proposes Rule Against Graduate Student Unions

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at emakowski@the-scientist.com.