Update: May 4, 2017
Dear Graduate Student Colleagues:
The following questions came to us from graduate students with questions about the impact of unionization.
What are the consequences of changing our status from students to employees? If we unionize, could our stipends be taxed? Would we still qualify for loan deferment?
At Tufts, graduate students have always been treated as students, rather than employees. However, the National Labor Relations Board's decision in the Columbia University case held that graduate students were "employees" under the labor law, and that as a result, they were entitled to unionize. Previously, graduate students at private universities had been exempt from unionization because of their status as students, just as graduate students are currently exempt from certain taxation because of this status. We do not think that unionization alone would change our view of our graduate students for purposes of taxation but this is not a Tufts decision – it is up to the Internal Revenue Service. Whether the IRS would change its view on taxation of students as a result of unionization is not clear right now. However, we will be watching this issue if the nature of our graduate students' roles change due to unionization or to other factors.
We also do not expect the unionization of graduate students, alone, to change student loan deferment. Tufts reports student loan deferment based on a student's enrollment status. If a graduate student remains enrolled in a graduate program on at least a half time basis– regardless of unionization – we will continue to take the same position.
We, too, have many questions about how unionization and the treatment of our graduate students as employees some of the time will change our current environment. The change of our students' status from "student to employee" to "student within and between semesters" is an important part of our concern about unionization and the uncertainties it raises.
Visit the Graduate Student Unionization page and read the FAQs >
James M. Glaser
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
Robert G. Cook
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences