For immediate release
March 10, 2016
Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congresswoman DeLauro, Governor Malloy, Mayor Harp, and other elected officials verify majority status, UNITE HERE International Union President D Taylor charters a new local union to represent graduate teachers and researchers on Yale’s campus: UNITE HERE Local 33
NEW HAVEN — Over 1,500 Yale graduate employees and allies gathered at the Omni Hotel in downtown New Haven Wednesday to participate in the founding convention of a new local union for graduate teachers and researchers on Yale’s campus: UNITE HERE Local 33.
“Four times in the past two years, a majority of graduate employees have asked Yale for a neutral election,” said GESO–UNITE HERE Chair Aaron Greenberg, a graduate teacher in Political Science. “Yale keeps saying no. But the consensus on campus keeps growing, and we’re tired of waiting.”
Amidst a growing movement for graduate employee unionization at universities nationwide, members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO–UNITE HERE) at Yale are seeking to form a union to resolve longstanding issues around insecure teaching and funding, inadequate mental health care, lack of access to childcare, and race and gender inequity.
“As a result of a recent change in Yale’s funding policies, the most experienced graduate teachers like me are being faced with our pay being cut by up to 47% while our workload stays the same or grows,” said Ally Brantley, a sixth-year graduate teacher in the History department. “We need a union contract to guarantee that we get equal pay for equal work.”
“As a woman scientist in a field that is still dominated by men, I have spent years dealing with sexist comments and attitudes,” said Robin Canavan, a fourth-year in Geology and Geophysics. “Woman scientists at Yale should have no doubt that their achievements are based on anything other than their intelligence. I want a union to support women scientists and to institute a transparent and straightforward grievance process.”
At GESO–UNITE HERE’s request, top elected officials at the national, state, and local levels counted the union’s membership cards and verified their majority status. The majority was verified by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Probate Judge Jack Keyes, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, New Haven Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker, and the Leadership of the New Haven Board of Alders.
“Talking with graduate teachers and verifying cards; a clear majority of graduate employees want a union. As a fair and effective first step, Yale should provide a neutral election so graduate teachers can be heard and heeded,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.
“A clear majority of Yale’s graduate researchers and teachers have filled out these cards and made their intentions clear—they want the right to organize a union. They deserve a fair and formal vote, free of interference,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “The bottom line is that Yale University and its students are part of the fabric of this city, and the right of graduate student-teachers to unionize will only serve to strengthen this institution.”
“I have always believed deeply in the right to collectively bargain,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, “These teachers and researchers want to vote to form a union and negotiate a contract. Yale should respect that.”
“Members of GESO–UNITE HERE, along with millions of other workers around the state and country, want to exercise the right to bargain collectively over the terms of their work and they should be able to do so,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “A majority has signed union cards calling for a vote and the next step is simple: Yale should agree to a fair and free election and respect the outcome.”
Following the card count, UNITE HERE International Union President D Taylor issued a charter for a new UNITE HERE local at Yale. “For 25 years, our union has supported the right of graduate teachers and researchers to organize,” he said, “I am honored to preside over this historic event and welcome Local 33 into our UNITE HERE family.”
Graduate teachers and researchers were joined at the convention by allies in UNITE HERE Locals 35, 34, and 217, the Yale Unions Retirees Association, New Haven Rising, and Students Unite Now. “I am warning Yale University that they have to make a decision to do right by Local 33 or they will go back to the dark ages,” said Local 35 UNITE HERE President Bob Proto.
The bargaining unit for UNITE HERE Local 33 includes PhD teachers and researchers in the Yale University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, following the bargaining unit of the only graduate union at a private university—GSOC-UAW 2110 at New York University.