The march ended on Cedar Street in the heart of Yale Medical School. There, Kate Irving, GESO chairperson and graduate teacher in the History of Science and History of Medicine told the crowd, “for twenty years, graduate teachers and researchers have asked Yale for a simple thing: when we say we want a Union, listen to us and respect our choice.” Irving continued, “We need organizing rights to give us a seat at the table. We stand with community members and Locals 34 and 35 in your mission for great contracts and real solutions to unemployment in this city, and we look forward to winning a great contract for ourselves.”
Irving joined other speakers–including workers from UNITE HERE Local 34, Local 35, and Local 217, Yale undergraduates, and non-union city residents—in articulating a bold vision for building Union and community power to create good jobs and a stronger New Haven. Click the video below to view more photos of the “Let’s Get to Work” march and rally.
We have had an exciting semester with a lot of changes, and the Membership Meeting will give us an opportunity to regroup and reflect as well as to look forward to what our agenda might be this spring. The fall Membership Meeting is also the time to elect officers of the union: you will have the opportunity to vote on the Chair, Co-chair, and Secretary-Treasurer positions of the union, as well as members of the Steering Committee. See you there!!]]>
Speakers included Chris Garaffa from Occupy New Haven, LaToya Agnew of the New Elm City Dream, and Tyisha Walker, a Cook’s Helper in Commons Dining Hall who is the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 35. A video commemorated struggles for social and economic justice in New Haven and elsewhere.
The New Haven Independent published a long story online with a number of great photos, New Haven Register posted a great story with video, and local news Channel 8 also covered the story.]]>
GESO is the union for graduate employees at Yale University. For the past 20 years, GESO has been a vital and vibrant part of the graduate experience at Yale, a powerful force for democracy on campus and in New Haven, and a leader in the national movement of academic workers. We seek to make Yale a diverse and accessible place of higher learning, a responsible employer and a good neighbor. By building consensus and mobilizing, we have won increased pay, free individual and family healthcare, medical and parental leave. We have also fought for equal rights for all graduate employees through campaigns for visa reform, funding security, and increased recruitment and retention of graduate employees and faculty of color. Working with allies in the university and the community, we have challenged Yale to increase its accountability to the residents of New Haven and to invest its endowment more ethically.
Most recently, GESO members have rallied to protest against budget cuts and corporate influence in administrative decision-making, and joined together with other union and community allies to stand up for rights of working people across New Haven. Last February, hundreds of GESO members and supporters came together to launch a report entitled “Yale Inc: The Corporate Model in Higher Education.” The report highlighted the ways in which accelerated centralization of power, efficiency measures and aggressive cost-cutting are transforming graduate teaching and research at Yale. On March 30, we joined with our partner unions Locals 34 and 35 of Unite Here at Yale, and with allies in the local community, in New Haven’s contribution to the nationwide “We Are One” movement, aimed at responding to the attacks on workers’ rights in Wisconsin. As the semester came to a close, GESO presented to key Yale administrators a petition signed by almost 700 graduate teachers demanding a voice in proposed changes to the structure of our academic departments and programs. This summer, GESO members have been working with our community allies to help elect grassroots-backed independent candidates to city government.
Although we are very proud of our history, we believe that achieving a recognized institutional voice at Yale is necessary to consolidate the many improvements we have made for our lives and in our community. We are expecting an important milestone in the next few weeks, as the National Labor Relations Board prepares to reconsider whether the organizing rights of graduate teachers at private universities are protected under the National Labor Relations Act.
We invite you to learn more, get involved and join GESO in our continued work to make Yale and New Haven a better and fairer place to work and study by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Greenlea, Sociology & African American Studies, GESO Chair
Robin Scheffler, History of Science & History of Medicine, GESO Co-chair
NYU teaching and research assistants were the first such employees at a private university to win union recognition and bargain a contract in 2001. After the Bush-appointed NLRB ruled in 2004 that grads are not employees, NYU refused to bargain a second contract with the union, GSOC/UAW, in 2005, leading to a protracted strike by graduate assistants.
“This [regional board] decision clearly recognizes that we are employees, who work for and receive compensation from NYU,” says Jan Padios, a teaching assistant in NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. “Now we’re going to take this case to the NLRB in Washington DC and claim our rights as workers.” Read more about the NYU case here.
GESO members are excited at the prospect that the new labor board may recognize their long-denied organizing rights. “Winning back the protection of federal labor law is an important step toward graduate teachers and researchers being able to win a union at Yale, and toward academic workers having a say in the university,” says Stephanie Greenlea, GESO Chairperson.]]>
The petition said, in part: “Decreases in teaching and research opportunities, arbitrary restrictions on time to degree, and downsizing support staff all threaten graduate teachers’ and researchers’ ability to produce excellent work, endangering the sustainability of a vibrant academic community. We therefore call on the administration to create a more democratic decision-making process that respects the needs of those who do the university’s work, and recognizes the right to organize and negotiate collectively.”
At a membership meeting just before the delegation, members reflected on an eventful year of organizing, and discussed the work ahead to continue building consensus and to fight back on changes to teaching and research work. They were joined by Local 34 and Local 35 Presidents Laurie Kennington and Bob Proto, who spoke with the group about the importance of GESO’s ongoing organizing efforts and the need to continue working more closely together.