Yesterday, parties made opening statements in a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board being held to determine whether the Graduate Workers of Columbia should be allowed to form a labor union.  The Graduate Workers of Columbia (GWOC), a group of Columbia University graduate students who have been working for some time with the United Auto Workers (UAW) in order to unionize, face an uphill battle: under current Board law, graduate students are not considered employees, but instead are considered students, and thus are ineligible to unionize.

During yesterday’s opening statement, GWOC argued that the 2004 Board ruling holding that graduate students were not employees should be overturned because it creates an “artificial dichotomy.”  Columbia University, not surprisingly, disagreed: the school takes the position that the Board should uphold its current precedent that graduate students are not eligible to form unions.

The hearing is set to continue tomorrow, when both sides are expected to call their first witnesses.  Please stay tuned to @LRToday for updates.