Yale will not begin contract negotiations with Local 33 on Wednesday despite the graduate student union’s demands, University spokesman Tom Conroy told the News in a statement on Tuesday.
Last week, Local 33 collected around 12,000 signatures on a petition calling for Yale to start the bargaining process by 5:30 p.m. today, and union supporters are planning to gather outside Woodbridge Hall this evening to demand that Yale open negotiations.
But according to Conroy, Local 33 has sent letters inviting University President Peter Salovey to “eight separate meetings” to begin collective bargaining over contracts in eight academic departments, even though only six departments have voted to unionize.
The six departments — English, History of Art, History, Sociology, Math, and Geology and Geophysics — voted to join Local 33 in elections held on Feb. 22. But the results in two other departments, Political Science and East Asian Languages and Literatures, will remain undecided until the National Labor Relations Board determines whether certain students were eligible to vote. Local 33 led in both departments after an initial vote count.
In his statement to the News, Conroy said it would be “premature” to begin the bargaining process before those two elections are resolved in hearings scheduled for the week of April 24. And he noted that Yale still has a request for review pending that challenges the legal basis of the union elections.
“Yale is still engaged with Local 33 before the NLRB,” Conroy said. “The University respects the legal process for resolving labor issues while this case continues to move forward.”
In response, Local 33 Chair Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 said Yale “is clearly having trouble accepting the union’s decisive victories in eight NLRB elections.”
“Now the question is this: Will Yale set their legal gamesmanship aside and come to the negotiating table, or will they dishonor the outcome of a federally sanctioned secret ballot election?” Greenberg said.
Alex Georgescu GRD ’17, who helps run the anti-Local 33 website GASO, said Yale is right to postpone the bargaining process because the legal debate over the departmental election strategy has not been put to rest. And he argued that it is hypocritical of Local 33 to object to Yale’s legal maneuvering “after [the union] went to such legal extremes to stop about 90 percent of the student population from voting.”
But supporters of Local 33 claim that Yale is deliberately stalling so that President Donald Trump will have time to fill the labor board with conservative appointees opposed to graduate student unionization.
Local 33 was previously known as the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, or GESO.