UNITE HERE 217 and Wesleyan Students at Yale for the start of the occupation/strike
Wesleyan students from United Student/Labor Action Coalition and Wesleyan Democratic Socialists joined Yale graduate school employees from UNITE HERE Local 33 on Tuesday evening to kick off a hunger strike meant to pressure Yale administration into entering contract negotiations with the newly-formed union. Eight graduate school employees from Local 33 have committed to an indefinite hunger strike being called “The Fast Against Slow.”
Read more about the strike after the jump:
The eight fasters from Local 33
Yale’s path to a union has been a long one–the longest continued campaign to unionize grad students at a private university, in fact. As a result of their most recent efforts, Local 33 won the right to union elections from the NLRB on January 5, 2017. Elections were held on February 23, with eight graduate departments voting to unionize. In a typical scenario, once a union is won, the union presents the boss with a date when contract negotiations will begin. In Local 33’s case, Yale refused to recognize the validity of the union, instead choosing to continue to fight against unionization by calling into question the union’s tactics of organizing by department instead of as a whole graduate school. According to the New York Times coverage of the hunger strike, “Union organizers at Yale said they suspect university officials are dragging the process out because they believe the NLRB will become more sympathetic to their view under President Donald Trump.”
Union members at 33 Wall Street
Tired of waiting, graduate students decided to occupy the plaza in front of Yale president Peter Salovey’s office starting Tuesday night in an encampment they’re calling 33 Wall Street. Wesleyan students who joined for the kick off of the occupation reported high spirits and an atmosphere of camaraderie among Local 33 members, other union members, students, and sympathetic community members. USLAC and WesDS have a history of working with our own UNITE HERE Local 217, which represents our Bon Appetit workers here at Wesleyan, so it was a no brainer to turn out in solidarity for other vulnerable workers as they try to collectively bargain for more rights and better conditions in their workplace.
Supporters holding down the fort for the first night at 33 Wall Street
On Thursday night, Local 33 received reports that the police would be evicting the encampment between 11 PM and 1 AM, so USLAC and WesDS students turned out again to stand with Local 33. The night was uneventful, though police had blockaded the street surrounding the encampment, and the occupation and hunger strike are still going strong today, with plans to continue until Yale sits down with union leaders to negotiate contracts.
UNITE HERE 217 and Wesleyan Students at Yale for some late-night solidarity on Thursday
You can find more coverage of the strike here:
All photos courtesy of UNITE HERE Local 33 and Local 217