At rally, GESO to ask for neutrality

After spending all year aggressively encouraging the Yale administration to adopt card-check neutrality, GESO will make its demand for neutrality official at a large union rally Friday that will feature a march by all four labor groups in the Federation of Hospital and University Employees.

Rally organizers expect over 2,000 marchers, including Yale undergraduates, four local mayors, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and over 100 members of the clergy, will support the neutrality requests of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and a union working to unionize employees at Yale-New Haven Hospital, GESO chair J.T. Way GRD ’05 said.

The rally also coincides with Yale’s second tercentennial weekend.

“This is really a historic event,” Way said. “Card-count neutrality is better for the workers, better for Yale and better for New Haven.”

A declaration of official card-check neutrality from either Yale or Yale-New Haven Hospital would mean that the Yale or hospital administration would not make any statements against unionization and would recognize a union if presented with signed statements of support, or cards, from more than half of the prospective bargaining unit.

Without a neutrality agreement, GESO and the Service Employees International Union District 1199, which is attempting to represent service and maintenance workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital, would have to follow a different path in order to gain recognition as a collective bargaining unit. Likely, GESO would have to have a majority vote in favor of a union in a secret ballot election sponsored by the National Labor Relations Board.

Provost Alison Richard, Yale’s chief academic and financial officer, declined to comment on the request for neutrality.

“We’re waiting to see what comes forward and we will respond,” Richard said of the rally.

Sunday night the Yale College Council passed a resolution, 17 to 3 with one abstention, in support of official neutrality in both the GESO and hospital cases.

“It’s one big movement for democracy, and neutrality is a big part of it,” said Abbey Hudson ’03, president of the Yale College Democrats and a YCC representative.

YCC presidential candidate Jack Snyder ’03 was one of the three YCC representatives who opposed the resolution.

“Card-check neutrality essentially gives GESO a monopoly on the union debate,” Snyder said.

Way said that though a University declaration of silence on unionization issues under a neutrality agreement could also apply to professors, the terms of any pact are negotiable.

“I’m confident that we can reach a reasonable agreement,” Way said.

The march on Friday will feature GESO and 1199 in addition to Locals 34 and 35, the unions who represent clerical, maintenance and dining hall workers at Yale.

Groups will march from either side of College Street Friday and meet at the New Haven Green, where the rally will take place. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and the mayors of East Haven, West Haven and Hamden will be in attendance, Way said.

Although Yale has taken strong stances against unionization in the past, Way said that he believes neutrality can happen.

The contracts of Locals 34 and 35 expire in January 2002, and those unions have had increasingly close ties with GESO and District 1199, recently holding a joint meeting in which they voted to support the two labor groups.

“We are standing united,” Way said. “We are going to keep asking for [neutrality] until we get it.”

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