The ballots from an election to determine the fate of a graduate student union at Columbia University will not be counted until the National Labor Relations Board rules on the university’s appeal of an earlier decision allowing graduate teaching and research assistants at Columbia to hold the election.

The election, held March 13, 14 and 19, allowed graduate students at Columbia to decide whether they wished to form a union. Despite their ideological differences, members of both Graduate Student Employees United, or GSEU, and Graduate Students Against Unionization, or GSAU, said they were pleased with the election process and unhappy with the university’s decision to file an appeal.

Beverly Gage, a graduate student in the history department and a member of GSEU’s organizing committee, said she views the university’s appeal as an attempt to thwart a democratic process.

“The university is trying to deny that we had the right to have an election in the first place,” she said.

Giovanni Ruffini, a third-year history graduate student and the president of GSAU, said the university is taking the wrong approach to stop the unionization effort.

“The university has to realize that the pro-union side is not going to go away even if the university wins their appeal,” he said.

The votes from the election may not be tallied for months. The NLRB is still ruling on a similar appeal filed by Brown University in December 2001 that has yet to be resolved.

“The NLRB took months and months to decide whether it would hear Brown’s appeal,” Ruffini said. “We might be looking at the next academic year.”

Gage added that at New York University, it took the NLRB six months to rule on the university’s appeal, which was denied.ÊShe said both GSEU and GSAU are anxious to see the results of the election.

“We do both agree that it’s time for the ballots to be counted,” she said.

–Shinzong Lee