With 900 prospective students on campus for Yale’s Bulldog Days program, members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee erected a “village” of tents and wood replicas of Yale buildings on Beinecke Plaza Monday, urging University administrators to find a “better way” of settling contracts for union members.
Organizers designed the “Better Way Village” — which includes a classroom, a library, a negotiating table and an information station staffed by UOC members — to educate undergraduates and to promote a campus dialogue about labor issues. The village will be the site of panels, presentations and demonstrations on Beinecke through Wednesday.
Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro led the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:00 a.m., officially inaugurating the village and opening it to the public.
“We want to call [the administration’s] attention to what is going on,” DeLauro said. “We want them to rethink their position, and we want them to understand that there is a better way.”
UOC spokesman Josh Eidelson ’06 said UOC members chose to construct the village outside Yale President Richard Levin’s Woodbridge Hall office because Levin has refused to participate in actual bargaining sessions.
“We’re waiting for him to come join this dialogue, but at the same time we’re bringing it here ourselves,” Eidelson said. “It’s a public articulation and a physical representation of our vision of a better and more democratic Yale.”
Eidelson said UOC members are trying to inform prefrosh who are visiting campus for Bulldog Days about labor relations at Yale.
“This is a moment when the University is going to be articulating its vision of itself and putting itself under scrutiny,” he said. “We’re going to be articulating our own vision.”
University spokeswoman Helaine Klasky declined to comment on the display but said Yale officials are still committed to reaching an agreement soon.
“Yale thinks our employees deserve good contracts now,” she said. “We see no reason why we can’t settle contracts immediately.”
Yale and its two largest unions, locals 34 and 35, have been negotiating new contracts for nearly 4,000 workers for 14 months. Union members, along with some members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and unionized workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital, held a five-day strike during the first week of March.
Georgia Wyeth ’06, who passed through Beinecke Plaza around 9:00 a.m. Monday, said she believed the village sends a message to administrators and undergraduates in a “humorous” and more accessible way.
“Instead of storming [Woodbridge] or doing something destructive, they’re doing the opposite,” she said. “They’re doing something constructive.”
Yale and its unions did not hold negotiations last week but have scheduled bargaining sessions for today and Wednesday.