To the Editor:

The Graduate Employee Student Organization (GESO) is not a union. Let’s not call teaching fellows’ failure to show up for work a “strike” (“GESO issues strike threat,” 4/7). Let’s call it failure to show up for work.

Yale should withhold pay from and appropriately punish any TF who fails to do his or her work, just as the University would treat any other of its employees. Now, it probably won’t, because doing so would give more fodder to the prolific GESO public relations machine. But it should.

On this page, the Yale Daily News has correctly opined that GESO’s divisive tactics, risible propaganda and false dichotomization of nuanced issues about which most members of the Yale community genuinely care have alienated potential allies, such as undergraduates. I challenge GESO to invite a credible third party to conduct an opinion poll of Yale undergraduates regarding their attitudes towards the group. One couldn’t blame Woodbridge Hall for salivating in anticipation of the results of such a poll, given that GESO has already lost its own mock unionization vote.

It’s unclear to me how GESO ringleaders regularly work up the gall to hijack section time to propagandize. It’s unclear to me why we should be sympathetic to strikes by the ruling class, whether they be professional hockey players or professional academicians. It’s unclear to me that the News ought to let GESO use its front page as a free megaphone.

What is clear is that GESO has accomplished little for its own members, and nothing for real laborers. Indeed, in 2001, while Harvard students were courageously bringing Massachusetts Hall to its knees over a “living wage” for university employees, GESO was opportunistically shanghaiing honest-to-God unions into its shifty, self-serving camp.

Jon Fougner ’05

April 8, 2005

The writer is former director of business development for the News.