To the Editor:
William Rogel’s Tuesday editorial jumps the gun and veils the real problem of labor unrest with a hypothetical one: oughtn’t we treat symptoms when the disease arrives? How about trying to prevent the disease?
Rogel’s problem is not that he is too humane towards replacement labor but that he countenances a needless and preventable strike that has not even happened yet. Rogel thinks sound economic rationale suggest unions should embrace replacement labor. An interesting point, but labor disputes are not about economic principles or reasoning so much as they are about being a hardass at crunch time.
They are ugly affairs and it would benefit everyone, not to mention Rogel’s ideal of campus civility, if the Yale administration would embrace a living wage principle and start following the Golden Rule: treat employees as the administration itself would like to be treated, not just as valuable role-players in Yale’s machinery but also as intrinsically valuable human beings.
Rogel’s warning is strange for another reason: outsourcing has already put replacement workers in Swing Space and Linsly-Chittenden, and no ill feeling seems to have taken effect. But this is getting ahead of ourselves. Labor may be a commodity as Rogel suggests, but we should think twice before defining its value with an economic model that spits out data on guns and butter.
And Yale should think twice before it heads, in its own well-trodden tracks, down the road of staunch opposition to labor demands — nothing less than the goodwill of New Haven, a goodwill delicately nursed back to health in the past few years, is at stake.