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Penn's legal struggle against graduate student unionization is entering its final phase.

The University received the National Labor Relations Board's decision to review the NLRB regional director's decision to allow about 1,000 graduate students to unionize, according to University spokeswoman Lori Doyle.

Dated May 14, the one-page notice states that, in a 2-1 decision, the NLRB felt that the appeal was appropriate given the issues on the table.

"The ruling simply supports our view that there are significant issues raised by graduate student unionization," Doyle said.

Penn graduate students, represented by American Federation of Teachers-affiliate Graduate Employees Together-University of Pennsylvania, first won the right to hold union elections in November 2002, when the NLRB regional director ruled in their favor after four months of hearings. Penn filed its appeal almost immediately.

If the NLRB rules in favor of the University, the results of February's election will remain impounded. An exit poll conducted by The Daily Pennsylvanian showed that the majority of voters who were eligible voted in favor of graduate student unionization. However, ineligible voters were able to cast "challenge ballots," which -- if deemed permissible by the NLRB -- could sway the results.

Columbia and Brown universities, both of which filed appeals in February of this year and December 2001, respectively, are also in line to be heard.

The NLRB has not yet put Penn's hearing on its calendar.

"That would be too much to hope for," Doyle joked, adding in an e-mail statement that "the recently constituted labor board has started to decide cases, and we are hopeful that we will get a relatively quick decision."

However quick that decision may be, it isn't fast enough for GET-UP.

"Although the National Labor Relations Board has announced plans to begin hearing some of the graduate employee unionization cases currently under appeal, the time when Penn's case will be heard may be far in the future, while we want our votes counted and our union recognized right now," said GET-UP spokeswoman Rachel Buurma.

Until President Bush's appointees to vacancies on the NLRB were confirmed, no cases could be heard.

Meanwhile, GET-UP has been doing its best to maintain a high profile and, if possible, convince Penn to drop its appeal.

Following sympathetic coverage of the union's cause in The New York Times Magazine, GET-UP staged a work-in on May 8, with over 100 union supporters grading papers and conducting business in College Hall, near University President Judith Rodin's office. At the climax of the event, dozens trooped into Rodin's office suite and asked to speak with her.

Rodin declined to meet with the protesters.

According to Buurma, the day-long work-in was "only the first in an increasingly emphatic series of actions GET-UP plans to continue to stage until the appeal is dropped."

She added that GET-UP intends to maintain an active presence during Alumni Weekend, "making sure that Penn alums know that we deplore President Rodin's decision to obstruct our right to a democratic unionization."

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