Amy Cheng

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.

  • Hieronymus Machine

    “Whacha gon’ do?
    Whacha gon’ do ?
    Whacha gon’ do
    When they ig-nore you?!”

    Strike! Strike hard; strike now!

    Voz evangelical: “Showz us y’awesome pow-ah! “

  • KJ

    Yale’s stake in choosing not to negotiate at this moment lies in their facetious hope that a majority Republican and Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board will overturn, not Local’s 33 election results, but the national August 2016 decision that declared graduate teachers can be students and workers, and that the former does not preclude teachers’ legal right to fair labor practices and employment contracts (Yale’s 2/15 request for Review of the Decision and Direction of Election).

    All of the petitions lodged by each party, including the national and local NLRB responses are here:

    On 3/13, the national board responded to Yale, and made it clear that Yale’s request to review both national and regional decisions is a delaying tactic, repeating twice the question of whether such review is even permissible under NLRB rules: (Is this really the best Yale can do?)

    On February 22, 2017, the Board denied Employer Yale University’s request for expedited review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election and its request to stay the elections scheduled for February 23, 2017, or alternatively, to impound the ballots in the above-referenced cases. The Board has not yet ruled on the merits of the Employer’s request for review, which was filed on February 15, 2017. …
    The time period for filing further documents in this case will be tolled until the Board has had the opportunity to consider whether the filing of further requests for review of the Decision and Direction of Election is permitted under the Rules.

  • Nancy Morris

    Whatever Yale’s motives might or might not be, it is a fact that President Donald Trump will fill the NLRB with appointees opposed to graduate student unionization, and otherwise seriously disinclined to side with Local 33 or the legitimacy of this election.

    The NLRB is governed by a five-person board and a General Counsel, all of whom are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. The NLRB now has two vacancies and three sitting members, one of whom is a Republican Trump has already appointed the acting chair. When Trump fills the two vacancies the NLRB will have a Republican majority. Similarly, the NLRB’s General Counsel’s term will expire this year, and Trump will appoint his successor. No decision or action of the NLRB or its General Counsel in this matter can be relied upon by anyone -Yale and Local 33 included – as determinative as to anything material, and pretenses to the contrary are risible. The current General Counsel is particularly partisan, and many of his rulings and actions are highly questionable and unlikely to survive long.

    So why all the fuss? Local 33 lost when Clinton did. It’s obvious. Graduate student teaching assistants are not “employees,” and the NLRB’s decision to the contrary is incorrect and is not going to last. None of this is difficult. It’s over. The members of Local 33 should concentrate on finishing their theses and getting jobs, which their reputations for all this “activism” will not make any easier.

  • Joey

    How in the world are there “8 decisive victories” when they don’t have final vote counts for 2 of those 8?

    • Hieronymus Machine

      Union math? Doublethink?