Graduate students at Brandeis have reached a tentative labor deal with the university. It’s the first such contract at a private school following a pivotal National Labor Relations Board ruling.

Two years ago this month, the NLRB extended union rights to teaching and research assistants at private universities. Brandeis' graduate students organized soon after, and under the contract announced Tuesday they could see their pay increase by as much as 50 percent over three years. The deal also gives them access to the same professional development opportunities as faculty.

Ben Kreider is a PhD candidate and says the contract proves his teaching and research is valued.

"We work very hard to make the university work,” Kreider told WGBH News. “We make Brandeis a better place and this means that we're able to make ends meet."

The graduate student union still needs to ratify the deal. A vote is scheduled for next month.

Since the NLRB decision, administrators at Harvard and Tufts have also agreed to negotiate with their graduate student unions.

Some schools, including Columbia, have argued that unionization will drive up tuition costs for other students and have refused to bargain.