As we previously reported, early this winter an SEIU local filed a petition with the NLRB seeking to represent student Resident Advisors. The RAs’ status as “employees” under the NLRA was hotly contested by the University and drew media attention as the first case at the NLRB involving college RAs. The RAs have appointments for a school year, and receive free housing and a $2,500 stipend for their service. In April, Region 5 of the Board, based in Baltimore, decided that the student RAs were “employees” under the Act largely because they were paid for their service. Under the Board’s “quickie election” rules, the university had little real opportunity to challenge the Region decision, and an election was scheduled for May 3.
Press reports now indicate that the union withdrew its petition literally on the eve of the election date. Ironically, it apparently was the Board’s “quickie election rules” that were a determinative factor, with the union spokesperson indicating that the union withdrew because it had only five days to campaign for votes and that “those 5 days happened to be in the middle of your exams.” In response to the last-minute withdrawal by the union, student RAs who had supported the organizing effort commented on Facebook that they “were not consulted in the decision and were upset that RAs will not have the opportunity to express their favor or disfavor for unionization. We do not agree with the decision to cancel the vote.” Some might say, “that’s how this works – Labor Relations 101.”