With a GESO strike set for next week, some law school students, though not formal members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, said they will strike alongside GESO members as a display of solidarity.
GESO members voted on Feb. 19 to take part in an “intellectual strike,” meaning they would not teach sections, conduct research or use any University facilities. From March 3 to March 7, GESO will strike alongside locals 34 and 35 — Yale’s two largest unions — and hospital workers. For undergraduates who have TAs from the Law School, sections may be cancelled or moved off campus.
Fadia Rafeedie LAW ’03, who teaches a section for “American Legal History,” said she will not cross picket lines because she believes unions have played an important role in securing benefits for America’s working classes when government and market forces have failed to provide adequate wages, pensions and working conditions.
“I choose to strike as a gesture of solidarity with the unionized workers of locals 34 and 35,” Rafeedie said in an e-mail. “I join the voices who are demanding that the University recognize the hospital staff’s rights to exercise control over their working conditions.”
Rafeedie said she will do what she can to resolve any negative effects it might have on her students before and after the strike.
One undergraduate said his TA for “Bioethics,” a professional school student, was not going to strike.
The undergraduate said his TA talked about the pressure she had received from a GESO member, who demanded that the TA show solidarity by not holding classes and joining picket lines.
“She said she wasn’t going to strike and wanted to keep the class going,” the undergraduate said.
GESO co-chairwoman Anita Seth GRD ’05 said because many law students are strong supporters of unions, she believes some will join the group of GESO members who intend to strike and not teach sections.
Law professor Deborah Malamud, a visiting labor law and policy specialist from the University of Michigan, said Yale has challenged the National Labor Relations Board decision and has claimed that graduate student teaching is not employment, but rather, a valuable part of the graduate student learning experience. She said the law is on the side of the graduate students.
Malamud said she thinks locals 34 and 35, which represent nearly 4,000 clerical, technical, service and maintenance workers, have joined GESO in a call for solidarity.
“Labor relations have become a civil rights movement in New Haven,” Malamud said.
Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman said he is opposed to GESO and has spoken out in past statements against graduate student unionization.
“A graduate student union would be destructive of the special Yale culture and learning experience,” Kronman said.