Graduate-student workers at Columbia University win back the right to form a union.

A National Labor Relations board ruled in their favor.

The ruling says U.S. law protects graduate student teaching assistants and researchers the same way it protects other workers.

This reverses a 2004 decision.

Students will now elect a committee to arbitrate on their behalf for issues including formal grievance procedures and payment schedules.

"I got paid ten months late my first year," said Ian Bradley-Perrin, a research assistant at Columbia. "That's quite a long time for the $25,000 I was supposed to live on."

"This decision paves the way not only for a union election here at Columbia, but for the organization of unions for graduate workers across the country, so it's obviously very exciting," said Paul Katz, a teaching assistant at Columbia.

More than 35,000 graduate students across the country may benefit from this ruling.

We've reached out to Columbia officials for reaction but have not heard back.