Several private universities are boosting stipends and benefits ahead of a federal ruling that could clear the way for graduate students to form unions. To some grad students, it's an attempt to persuade them that they don't need collective bargaining to get a raise.

Columbia University, Cornell and the University of Chicago have all increased stipends and benefits for grad students over the past year.

Union backers say raises are nice but their real goal is more control over their work.

University administrators say graduate students are not employees because they teach and conduct research as part of their education.

The NLRB has agreed to consider two cases involving graduate student unionization at Columbia University and the New School.

A ruling from the board is expected this year.