The day after a marathon Yale College Council meeting ended early Monday morning with the repeal of last year’s resolution supporting card-count neutrality for GESO, representatives reflected on how they came to their decision.
The resolution passed Monday was a strong departure from the original resolution written by YCC Rep. Matthew Robinson ’03, which called for the repeal of last year’s resolution, but also explicitly condemned card-count neutrality and advocated an National Labor Relations Board-sponsored secret ballot election for a possible graduate student union.
Robinson attributed the changes in the resolution to filibuster-type tactics by several people in the packed audience, but others said the final product was the only consensus that could have been reached among council members.
Robinson and Andrew Allison ’04 both said they did not feel the resolution made a strong statement to either GESO or the administration. But Sam Asher ’04 said he felt the resolution was important because it also calls for an unprecedented meeting between the administration, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and non-aligned graduate students to work out a mutually acceptable way to resolve the unionization issue.
Only five representatives voted against the final resolution, including YCC Vice President EB Kelly ’03, who said she felt people only supported it because it was an expedient solution for YCC members who had already sat through five hours of debate.
“I voted against the resolution because I felt like everyone was very confused because there had been so many changes made to it and no one had a complete [printed] copy of it,” Kelly said. “I felt like the solution, because it didn’t really take a stance and just rescinded our old resolution — was sort of universally acceptable because in effect, it doesn’t say very much. I would have preferred to table the question until Wednesday, at which point I could have typed up all of the amendments that had been made at that point.”
Abbey Hudson ’03 , who wrote last year’s resolution, said she felt the end result was reflective of what the undergraduate student body wants — an end to labor strife on campus.
“It’s not our place to take on the nuances of labor law,” Hudson said. “People might say that’s hypocritical because of the resolution I wrote last year. I’m still supportive of card-count neutrality but I don’t know that it was the YCC’s place [to take a stand on it].”
Several people in attendance agreed that making a decision on how to determine the issue of graduate student unionization was beyond the scope of the YCC’s responsibility, and only the final, pared-down version of the resolution was proper. Ames Brown ’02, the chairman of the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, and several others suggested that the issue may have been too complicated for the YCC to tackle.
“Many of us feel that suggesting a recourse is beyond the scope of our responsibility,” Brown said in an e-mail. “I think the hours of delays in session can be attributed to members’ discomfort with the subject matter — not the position — that we were debating. We really needed to limit the scope of what was being debated and we did.”
YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said he felt fatigue was a factor in the final decision. Robinson and YCC Secretary Ryan Sheely ’04 both said they felt pressure from the audience was also a deciding factor.
“A lot of people left during the recess,” Robinson said. “The people who remained were mostly people who spoke against the resolution often in a disruptive way. I’m afraid that some members may have been intimidated by their behavior and that may also factor into the final result. I hope not, but I don’t know; it’s definitely a concern.”
Prabhakaran said he broke a tie and voted for a motion removing much of Robinson’s original wording because he felt that consensus could only be reached on the narrow issue of repealing last year’s resolution.
“I am, I guess, personally disappointed that we didn’t call upon the unions to step away from the card-count neutrality that they’re currently proposing and instead to go to a secret ballot election,” Prabhakaran said. “But I guess that wasn’t the crucial thing that this resolution was calling for, these [two clauses] were the two main things. I’m at least pleased that we were able to pass this much.”
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