Our Position on Graduate Assistant Unionization
We believe graduate students who are engaged in teaching and research as part of their academic program are fundamentally students and, therefore, do not qualify as “employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act. Consistent with this position, shared by the higher education community, we maintain they are not eligible for union representation.
Graduate assistants at Loyola are admitted to a graduate program as students based on their academic profile. They are neither hired nor employed by the University. Consistent with Loyola’s Jesuit, Catholic mission, which includes the principle of service to others, our graduate assistant programs provide students with the mentorship and experience to allow them to thrive academically and to eventually become leading researchers and scholars in their own right. (Click here for more about our philosophy on the role of graduate assistants).
Having graduate assistants classified as employees would adversely impact fundamental, core aspects of the manner in which Loyola structures and delivers its transformative education and would have extensive and far reaching implications for the relationship between Loyola students and faculty.
To be clear, we are not anti-union. We are pro-social justice. We value our graduate assistants and are serious about our commitment to them. Dr. Rooney’s listening sessions and conversations throughout academic year 2016–17 provided a vehicle to receive direct feedback from graduate assistants. That feedback and a market comparison of our graduate student support have provided us with a clearer understanding of how we can better enhance the graduate student experience. We are taking important steps to enhance the graduate assistant experience, including providing new support awards and a stipend increase in academic year 2017–18 for those eligible, and increasing their voice through new engagement activities and affinity groups.