With negotiations between Yale and its unions beginning next week, some campus leaders are making plans to educate the campus on labor issues.
A representative from GESO met with the Yale College Council issues committee on Monday and representatives from Locals 34 and 35 will speak with the Yale College Democrats next Monday. Talks with administrators are also planned.
The Graduate Employees and Students Organization is trying to form a TA union and locals 34 and 35 represent Yale clerical, dining hall and technical workers. Locals 34 and 35 are negotiating a new contract with the University. While GESO has no official role in the bargaining sessions, leaders of locals 34 and 35 have said they will push for union recognition for the group.
Sam Asher ’04, who is a member of United Students at Yale and a YCC representative, said the goal is to enable the student body to hear both sides of the issue.
“In terms of YCC, we do have a number of very pro-labor members, but we’re trying to take as neutral a stance as possible,” Asher said. “That’s why we’re getting both union members [and administrators].”
YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said Yale President Richard Levin will speak at the Feb. 17 YCC meeting about several issues including neutrality. The YCC is planning to subsequently write a resolution about neutrality, Prabhakaran said.
GESO and workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital are trying to form official unions through a process called card-check neutrality. Under a neutrality agreement, administrators and faculty would not speak for or against unionization and the administration would recognize a union if more than 50 percent of prospective union members signed cards.
University officials have opposed neutrality agreements, saying they oppose TA unionization and do not control Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Ted Wittenstein ’04 and Asher both said educating the student body is one of their primary concerns.
“[We want] to inform the student body so the student body is well aware and can take a stand because it affects us as Yale students and New Haven citizens,” Asher said.
USAY members are also trying to organize master’s teas or other forums within the colleges to educate students about the labor issues in a more intimate setting.
National labor leader John Wilhelm ’67 is speaking at a Trumbull College master’s tea on Monday.
And Abby Levine ’02 said she has spoken with Berkeley College Master John Rogers, who plans to have union representatives speak in Berkeley at the end of the month.
“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and ask me what the situation is,” Levine said. “I think there’s really a desire on campus, people really want to know what’s going on.”
Levin said he is working with the YCC to find a date for an open forum this spring, and would answer questions about labor then. He also said he will continue to have regular lunches in the colleges, and that he will have a couple of masters teas in the coming months, but not devoted only to union issues.
Abbey Hudson ’03 said the Democrats have not yet decided if they will have a meeting to hear the administration’s side of the issue, but she thinks it is likely.
“I think to make an informed decision, we’d have to hear from the other side,” Hudson said.