With picketing and rallies set to disappear from Yale’s landscape for at least the next two weeks, University officials and union leaders are beginning to assess the success of this week’s strike.
Union representatives maintain that the strike was successful in disrupting Yale’s activities. But University officials, while they described the strike as an inconvenience, said they had not been informed of any disruptions to the University’s core operations. Yale and unions leaders both offered as evidence differing estimates of the level of strike participation.
Local 35 President Bob Proto said approximately two-thirds of Local 34 and 98 percent of Local 35 participated in this week’s strike. He said 100 percent of the Service Employees International Union District 1199, which represents 150 dietary workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital, went on strike.
Yale officials said approximately one-half of Local 34 and 95 percent of Local 35 members participated in the strike. Vice President of Finance and Administration Robert Culver said the University uses payroll records to determine how many workers are on strike.
Local 34 represents 2,800 Yale clerical and technical workers. Local 35 represents Yale’s 1,100 service and maintenance workers.
Graduate Employees and Students Organization members have called strike participation by graduate students “encouraging.”
In GESO’s Feb. 19 strike vote, 482 of the 626 present members voted to strike. Yale currently has approximately 2,300 graduate students.
Yale Provost Susan Hockfield said the University cannot estimate how many graduate students are participating in the GESO strike because graduate students continue to receive their stipends regardless of whether they are striking or not.
“Because we consider the support we provide to them financial aid, they are being paid,” Hockfield said.
Yale President Richard Levin said the University will be able to better estimate the number of GESO participants next week when Yale knows how many graduate students taught sections. But he said he thought graduate student participation in the strike was low.
Hockfield said though some classes have been moved, no classes were cancelled because of the strike. She said in some cases, faculty members taught sections while teaching assistants were striking.
“So far we have gotten no reports that classes have been cancelled,” Hockfield said. “All classes have been meeting.”
According to a union Web site, approximately 195 classes were cancelled or moved, of which 87 were officially relocated off-campus.
Hockfield said the strikes have not affect the central activities on campus.
“We are operating as close to normal as one could possibly hope,” Hockfield said. “It looks to me as though the core activities of the University are still taking place, essentially without interruption.”
But Proto said Yale is telling a lie in asserting that the University was not affected by the strike.
“How could things go on as normal?” Proto said. “I think they sound very foolish when they say that. Our members think it’s funny, the community thinks it’s just another way of Yale manipulating the media.”
University administrators said Yale developed its contingency plan to assure the continuation of research and teaching during the strike.
“My biggest concern is to make sure that all of our facilities are open and running,” Culver said.
Culver said beyond normal outside contracting — such as snow removal — Yale did not hire any workers to replace the strikers. In most cases, managers or non-striking workers assumed the duties of those striking. But Culver said some workers were trained to do specific jobs, such as managing the power plant.
Levin said approximately 800 workers manned the picket lines Monday and 600 workers picketed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Union leaders did not provide exact numbers of picketers. But Proto said he was very impressed by the turnout, especially given the weather conditions. Proto said it was especially difficult for some workers to picket yesterday because public schools had a snow closing and some parents had to stay home.
The unions are offering picketing workers $150 per week in picket pay. To be eligible, workers must picket from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and must check in and check out with a designated picket captain. Picket pay checks will be available March 13.