Enthusiasm was high as Yale graduate student teachers were granted a Unite Here Local 33 charter in the presence of 1,000 members of other unions at Yale, elected officials, New Haven Rising and undergraduate students.
D. Taylor, national president of Unite Here, thanked all the elected officials, many of whom were Alders and union members alike. “We told Yale we stand one hundred percent behind Local 33. The charter makes clear this is permanent – it's not going away,” he said recalling that “ Locals 34 and 35 were born of fights and hardship.”
Addressing Yale University Taylor said, “If you want to have warfare we know how to do warfare. If you are smart you will recognize Local 33 and negotiate a contract and we will have peace.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Attorney General George Jepson announced they had counted the ballots in lieu of university presence, and there was a good majority voting yes.
“Unions enable people to fight for themselves and their families,” said DeLauro to loud applause. “You are continuing that legacy today.”
The graduate student teachers (GESO) have been organizing over a 25 year period, and held previous elections, but the university administration has refused to recognize them as a bargaining unit on campus, claiming they are students not teachers.
The National Labor Relations Board is expected to make a ruling soon that would recognize the rights of grad students at private universities to union recognition.
Local 33 president Aaron Greenberg, who also represents Ward 8 on the Board of Alders, called on the University for a no-intimidation vote for union recognition, to loud chants “Local 33 Must Be”.
The pressure on the university for a fair election comes as clerical workers (Local 34) and service and maintenance workers (Local 35) begin negotiations for new contracts. Among the issues is a plan by the university to move 980 positions in the Medical School now covered by Local 34 to Yale New Haven Hospital which has no union representation.
In December the university agreed to hire 1,000 New Haven residents over the next three years including 500 from neighborhoods of need, following an intensive campaign to “end the jobs crisis” led by new Haven Rising.