Graduate Workers Union Files Federal Charges Against Northeastern University for Illegal Use of Police Officers to Threaten and Intimidate Workers

Unionizing graduate student workers at Northeastern University filed federal charges with the NLRB alleging illegal use of police to intimidate and threaten union organizers.

BOSTON, MA – The Graduate Employees of Northeastern University – UAW (GENU-UAW) have filed an unfair labor practice charge (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging illegal retaliation and attempts to intimidate graduate worker union organizers, highlighting the university’s continued acts of disrespect and coercion.

Graduate worker union organizers have reported police showing up in their workplace to interrogate them about their participation in a union action, a clear violation of their rights to participate in a union free of retaliation and intimidation. The charge includes a request for an order against the University to stop abusing their police power.

“After participating in a chalking activity, I was shocked to have armed officers show up at my lab desk without notice to threaten me with false charges,” said Niki Thomas, a fifth year graduate worker at Northeastern University in the Bioengineering program.

“This university continues to obstruct us, first by fighting our right to organize, and now retaliating against me for helping form our union. This is exactly why we need a union, to protect us from the discriminatory actions of this administration. They are even willing to violate federal law and try to terrorize me and my colleagues out of organizing. We deserve better.”

GENU-UAW filed for a union election on February 6th of this year, but the University refused to agree to an election and has instead chosen to fight against all graduate workers’ right to organize, claiming the NLRB’s landmark 2016 Columbia decision, which restored student workers’ right to organize a union, was “wrongly decided”.

The graduate workers were forced to hold a hearing defending their right to a union, and are currently awaiting a decision from the NLRB Regional Director.