Michael Cronin is a doctoral student and graduate assistant at Pennsylvania State University. A hearing examiner at the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (“PLRB”) recently determined that Mr. Cronin and nearly 4,000 other graduate assistants at Penn State were “public employees” who could be unionized against their school.
Mr. Cronin became a graduate assistant to further his education and believes that a union would interfere with that opportunity. Indeed, if the union wins its election, expected in April, it will become the “exclusive representative” for Mr. Cronin and every other graduate assistant—even those who voted against the union or neglected to vote. Mr. Cronin would lose the opportunity to determine his own educational future.
Mr. Cronin will ask the PLRB to allow him to intervene and participate in the union’s still-pending proceeding before the PLRB and will also request that the PLRB review the hearing examiner’s decision and stay the election until his decision has been reviewed. Ultimately, longstanding Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent establishes that those paid to perform work primarily for educational or training purposes should not be subjected to exclusive representation.