The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) announced that it has submitted comments to the National Labor Relations Board (Board) opposing a rule proposed by the Board that would prevent many graduate teaching or research assistants from forming unions under the National Labor Relations Act (Act).  The AAUP takes the position that graduate assistants perform teaching or research work in exchange for compensation; that graduate assistants are employees who should have the same rights as other private sector employees under the Act; and that collective bargaining by graduate assistants promotes academic freedom by permitting faculty, graduate assistants, and administrators to discuss how best to undertake their common work.  The AAUP’s comments note that approximately 35,000 graduate assistants are already members of unions at private universities.  The comments also argue that the Board should consider this issue through its usual adjudicative approach rather than through rulemaking.  The Board’s proposed rule would overturn a 2016 decision issued by the Board in Columbia University, 364 NLRB. No. 90 (2016), stating that graduate assistants are employees subject to the protections of the NLRA.