About a dozen female Local 34 and GESO members pressured Yale Corporation member Linda Mason SOM ’80 to lead the University in enhancing its childcare programs for graduate students and employees Thursday.

Union and Graduate Employees and Students Organization members confronted Mason at a women’s faculty forum at which she spoke. The members asked Mason, who co-founded the nation’s largest provider of employer-sponsored childhood education, to use her influence and sway the University to change.

In a planned appearance, members of Local 34 — which represents clerical and technical workers — and GESO, some with young children in tow, confronted Mason in Rosenfeld Hall just before the start of the forum at which Mason spoke. Shortly after, they cornered University Secretary Linda Lorimer to discuss the childcare issues.

Both Mason and Lorimer listened to members’ complaints and told the members they would consider the issue.

“I really welcome hearing people’s views,” Mason said. “I feel lucky to be here.”

Mason could not comment further because forum organizers led her away.

Mary Reynolds GRD ’07, who is campaigning to succeed Anita Seth GRD ’05 as GESO chair, said the group is coordinating efforts with local 34 to call on the University to “provide affordable and available day care.”

“As a member of the Corporation, [Mason] does have some power and some sway,” Reynolds said. “[She] could speak to other board members about the importance of making the University more accessible to people with families.”

In a letter which Local 34 and GESO members handed to Mason Thursday, the members asked her to form a working group to explore ways to solve “long-standing problems for working women.” Claiming that Yale offers no subsidies for day care to any employees, they called on Yale to provide “affordable on-site day care,” “give adequate health coverage for the families of every worker,” and “offer greater parental leave options.”

But Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said the University does provide financial support for working mothers.

“Yale does not provide day care subsidies,” Klasky said. “[But it provides] pre-tax benefits that can be applied to day care costs.”

Local 34 organizer Adam Marchand said the discussions with Mason and Lorimer were “pretty short and sweet.”

“I don’t think we’re going to hammer out all the details tonight,” Marchand said. “But what’s most important is to work with Linda Mason for two reasons. She’s an expert in the field of day care and she’s written a book about working mothers and the second is she’s on the Yale Corporation.”

University accounting assistant Renee Trotman, 35, who is the mother of one two-and-a-half year old child, spoke to Mason on behalf of the union.

“I’m hoping that she responds to our letter with an open mind and very seriously,” Trotman said after she spoke with Mason. “Any decent day care is $1,000 per month per child, and for workers and Local 34 members, we can’t afford it.”

An on-duty Yale Police officer stood in the back of Rosenfeld Hall during the talk. Union officials declined to speculate about why he was stationed there.

GESO members voted this month to shift its strategy and develop a new issues-based platform that leaders hope will help GESO reach out to graduate students. The group will elect a new chairperson at a membership meeting next Wednesday.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”18646″ ]