Unions and civil disobedience – Peter Somerville

This afternoon at 4:30, the Committee for Freedom will be gathering in the Calhoun College courtyard to rally against the manipulative street theater performance being put on by Yale’s unions and their supporters. We will be doing so to protest both the event itself and also the duplicity that the unions have used throughout their current negotiations with the University.

Today’s event, in which scores of union supporters intend to block traffic at the corner of Elm and College streets, continues the frequently used tactic of ensnaring the city of New Haven in their labor disputes.

The unions have sponsored several reports of dubious merit accusing Yale of naming its buildings after slaveholders and of unjustly dooming New Haven public schools to failure. By causing gridlock during the afternoon rush hour, the unions aim to once again blame Yale for something it did not do.

These tactics demonstrate how empty union rhetoric has been. Union representatives have used grandiose language to describe their goals of forcing Yale to form a “partnership” with its workers and a “social contract” with New Haven. Meanwhile, the unions have been pressuring Yale to recognize organizing efforts by Graduate Employees and Students Organization and hospital workers, and refusing to address their own workers’ wages and benefits until this has been done.

Neither of these organizing efforts should be part of any agreement between the existing unions and Yale.

In the case of the hospital workers, the unions have failed to explain why a normal National Labor Relations Board election is unacceptable. If, as union leaders maintain, hospital workers genuinely want a union, then they ought to allow the workers to vote for one by secret ballot.

With regard to the graduate students, the members of the Committee for Freedom believe that they are students, not workers. As such, calls for a union ring false. In fact, graduate students already have an institutionalized voice in the Graduate Student Assembly, which functions as a student council. It is not surprising that GESO members forget this body; they have in the past reneged on agreements to speak at its meetings.

Students who have tired of union double talk, manipulation and publicity stunts are invited to join the Committee for Freedom this afternoon to protest the latest, and hopefully the last, disruption on campus.



Peter Somerville is a senior in Morse College. He is president of the Committee for Freedom.

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