GESO demands recognition talks

A day after declaring that they have the support of a majority of graduate students, GESO leaders called on University officials to meet with the group and agree to a process for settling the debate over graduate student unionization.

In a letter delivered to Yale President Richard Levin’s office Tuesday, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization reiterated a longtime demand and referred to the importance of addressing graduate student unionization as a way to improve the relationship between Yale and its two largest recognized unions.

The letter comes a day after GESO members announced that they have the support of a majority of graduate students, and a day before a major rally planned by Yale’s unions and other groups trying to unionize.

Levin declined to comment on the letter, and said he would respond in writing to the letter’s authors. Levin also declined to comment on the group’s claim to have a majority of graduate student support.

GESO leaders have repeatedly asked for University administrators to agree to recognize the group through card-count neutrality, in which the University would agree to remain neutral about unionization and recognize a union if a majority of graduate students signed union cards. University officials have said in the past that they oppose card-count neutrality and advocate a secret ballot National Labor Relations Board election instead.

But with GESO claiming a majority among graduate students, talk of a new tone in labor relations, and the union rally planned today, the momentum for a watershed moment for GESO appears imminent, GESO Chairwoman Anita Seth GRD ’05 said.

“Given what’s going to be happening tomorrow — I think the administration really does need to start respecting the voice of teachers and researchers,” Seth said.

With Yale and and its recognized unions, locals 34 and 35, trying to achieve a better relationship, union leaders have said addressing the organizing drives of GESO, as well as hospital workers trying to organize at Yale-New Haven Hospital, are crucial for an improved labor-management relationship at Yale.

In the letter, GESO leaders praised the improved relations between Yale and both New Haven and the recognized unions during Levin’s tenure as president. The letter called on him to “strengthen this record” by negotiating a process to determine whether graduate student support unionization.

The letter also referred to petitions previously delivered to Levin’s office expressing support for GESO from locals 34 and 35, and a resolution passed April 8 by the Yale College Council calling for Yale and GESO to figure out a solution to the dispute over unionization.

“It is impossible to form a strong relationship with some workers on campus while denying the rights of others,” the letter stated.

GESO leaders and representatives from locals 34 and 35, as well as the hospital workers trying to organize, will reiterate their demands at this afternoon’s rally, scheduled to be held on the Harkness dormitory lawn at the medical school.

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