Appeals court rules in UM grad workers case

3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago Tuesday, July 30 2019 Jul 30, 2019 Tuesday, July 30, 2019 1:46:23 PM CDT July 30, 2019 in News
By: Steve Lambson, KOMU 8 News Content Manager

COLUMBIA - The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District issued its ruling Tuesday in a case over whether graduate students at the University of Missouri are employees.

The three-judge panel's opinion was a mixed bag, affirming part of a prior judgement saying grad students are employees and rejecting another part of the judgement.

The previous judgement from Boone County Circuit Judge Jeff Harris ruled grad students are employees of the university, which would allow them to unionize. It also said the Coalition of Graduate Workers (CGW), formed in 2015, was the rightful collective bargaining representative for grad students and the university must recognize it as such.

The university maintained its argument that graduate students are more students than employees because they can only get employed positions based on admittance into graduate programs. It also contended it couldn't recognize the election by which grad students chose CGW to be its exclusive bargaining representative.

The appeals court ruled upheld the ruling that grad students are employees, citing a 2007 finding by the Missouri Supreme Court:

"'Employees' plainly mean employees. There is no adjective; there are no words that limit 'employees' to private sector employees. The meaning of [Article I, section 29 of the Missouri Constitution] is clear and there is, accordingly, no authority for this Court to read into the Constitution words that are not there."

With regards to CGW and the election in which it was selected to represent grad students, the appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs in the case failed to show they "they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law regarding the selection of CGW as the exclusive bargaining representative of graduate workers." On this issue, the appeals court reversed the previous judgement and "remanded [the case] for further proceedings."

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