Striking union members and graduate students rallied for health care Tuesday, as campus activities continued relatively routinely during the second day of a weeklong walkout.
Strikers converged outside Yale-New Haven Hospital Tuesday morning, where more than 1,000 union supporters gathered to hear speeches by union leaders including Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern and SEIU District 1199 President Dennis Rivera. With dining halls closed, students filled area restaurants throughout the day. Some classes met in alternate locations, such as York Square Cinema and New Haven City Hall, but most campus events continued without disruption.
The strike will continue today with picketing at various locations around campus. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen will address striking workers and graduate students at Phelps Gate at 11:30 a.m.
Union leaders said a large proportion of locals 34 and 35 participated in the strike, along with members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and unionized hospital workers. University leaders said about 95 percent of Local 35, the service and maintenance workers union, participated in the strike, but that only about 50 percent of Local 34, the clerical and technical union, walked out. University leaders also said they do not know how many graduate students struck because many do not teach sections until the end of the week.
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said Tuesday was very similar to the first day of the strike.
“From our point of view, the University is managing very well, and all the functions of the University are being fulfilled,” he said.
Union spokesman Bill Meyerson said he was pleased that many people turned out to hear Stern and Rivera speak.
“The kind of support we’re receiving from national leaders in the health care industry is great,” Meyerson said.
SEIU District 1199, which represents 150 dietary workers at the hospital, is trying to organize 1,800 other hospital workers. Yale officials have said they do not have control over the hospital because it is a separate institution.
Union supporters also picketed outside a speech Yale President Richard Levin attended and confronted Levin as he entered the talk. When Levin approached the Whitney Humanities Center, headed for a lecture by historian Garry Wills, union supporters and graduate students asked him to negotiate fair contracts and discuss a process of recognition for GESO.
Levin told GESO organizers to request a National Labor Relations Board election. GESO members responded that he has said he would not honor the results of an NLRB election.
After Levin entered the building, about 45 workers and graduate students marched in a circle and chanted union slogans.
Union and University negotiators will return to the bargaining table to discuss new contracts for locals 34 and 35 beginning next Tuesday.