Unions pledge solidarity



As members of Yale’s two largest unions, graduate students and hospital workers dig in for a five-day strike Monday morning, union and University leaders are completing last-minute plans to prepare students and workers for the next week.

Facing five days without dining hall or custodial services, students on the standard 21-meal plan will receive rebate checks of approximately $170 from the University. Some masters are also planning study breaks to feed students, and the Yale College Council will provide weekend rides to Shaw’s supermarket for students who want to stock up on food.

Union leaders are finalizing plans to provide food and money to picketing workers and said they expect a high turnout on picket lines next week.

Yale President Richard Levin said the University will try to maintain an “atmosphere of civility” during the upcoming strike. He said there will be security personnel around campus during the week.

“I think there are some people who are concerned about harassment,” he said. “The most important thing is that our responsibilities to students are honored.”

Members of Yale’s two largest unions, locals 34 and 35, will begin the strike Monday at 5 a.m. Members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization will also strike, along with unionized workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

In a Monday letter to undergraduates, Robert Culver, Vice President for Finance and Administration, said students on dining hall meal plans will receive rebate checks through the mail Monday. The checks will equal the value of students’ weekly meal plan contract rate, the letter said.

Executive Director of Administration Janet Lindner, who is in charge of contingency planning, said the University’s strike plans assume every union member will strike. She said the plans are applicable for as long as the strike lasts.

“The objective is to keep operations functioning for students and staff and faculty,” she said.

Local 35 President Bob Proto said he estimates over two-thirds of Local 34 members and approximately 97 percent of Local 35 will participate in the walkout. He said he also expects a “phenomenal turnout” by GESO members and hospital workers.

“What I’m most excited about is that we’re going to have the greatest rate of participation in our history,” he said. “I think Yale is underestimating our commitment and underestimating our solidarity.”

Proto said most picket lines, especially the large ones that will form outside locations such as Commons, will be mixed with members of locals 34 and 35, graduate teaching and research assistants and hospital workers.

Proto said picketers will have access to sandwiches and hot coffee. He said strikers who come to picket lines will receive $150 picket pay for the week as well as money for groceries.

Union spokesman Bill Meyerson said union members will begin picketing around 7 a.m. Monday, with peak participation at 9 a.m. He said there will be “mass picketing” in the area of Wall Street between College Street and the Hall of Graduate Studies and also on the corner of York and Cedar streets.

With dining halls closed, several groups are working to provide access to food for undergraduates.

The Yale College Council will provide a shuttle service to Shaw’s from locations around campus Sunday through Wednesday, YCC Vice President Ryan Sheely ’04 said.

Sheely said Shaw’s manager Randy Brooks agreed to subsidize the shuttles and will allow students to use their rebate checks to buy groceries and return their balances in cash. He said Brooks also agreed to create one or two “Yale Express” checkout lines to allow students to make purchases quickly.

In an e-mail to students, Saybrook College Master Mary Miller said custodial services will be provided on a limited basis and that she would host regular study breaks while the dining halls are closed.

The strike may also affect other services.

Local 34 member Liz Sader, senior administrative assistant in Morse College, said a United Postal Service worker told her he will not deliver packages across picket lines in a show of support for the unions.

University and union negotiators will hold their last scheduled main table bargaining session today. Union leaders have said they are willing to come back to the table next week though the two sides have not scheduled any sessions.

Comments