Profs want ‘fair’ recognition for workers

Fifty-one faculty members urged administrators in a petition Tuesday to negotiate a fair process of recognition for GESO members and workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The petition, which includes the signatures of seven department or program chairmen, asks University officials to “openly discuss a fair and appropriate process for measuring the support of graduate students and hospital workers for unionization.” The petition comes more than a month after some members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and unionized hospital workers joined members of Yale’s two largest unions, locals 34 and 35, in a five-day walkout.

Yale President Richard Levin declined to comment on the petition.

American studies and women’s and gender studies professor Laura Wexler said she signed the petition in the fall but still feels that GESO members and hospital workers deserve the opportunity to discuss a process of recognition with the Yale administration.

“I just wish they could talk to each other and get the situation resolved,” she said.

But not all faculty members said they felt the same way now as they did when they signed the petition.

Divinity School professor John Collins said he has been less sympathetic towards the organizing drives since he signed the letter in late February.

“I signed the petition before the strike, figuring that Yale ought to do everything possible to avoid the strike,” he said. “I’m a little annoyed that they’re now circulating it in a different context.”

GESO has been trying to organize graduate students for over a decade but has not formally requested an election. University leaders have maintained that graduate students are not employees and cannot form a union.

The Service Employees International Union District 1199 has been trying to unionize 1,800 workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Yale officials have said they do not control the hospital because it is a separate institution.

Yale and its unions have been negotiating new contracts for nearly 4,000 workers since last February. University negotiators have maintained that they would not discuss the organizing drives of GESO and the hospital workers at the bargaining table.

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