The strike—the eighth at Yale in the past 35 years—resulted from a year of stalled negotiations.
It is currently slated to run the entire week, until students leave for spring break, but union leaders said yesterday they are leaving their options open.
As the novelty wore off yesterday, students settled into the realities of the week-long strike—closed dining halls and classes relocated to avoid picket lines.
The strikers represent four of Yale’s unions and a wide variety of workers, including janitors, food-service employees and hospital workers—and some graduate students, whose participation in the strike drew heavy criticism from many undergraduates.
Representatives of all the unions—Locals 34 and 35 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE), the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO) and Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU) District 1199—said they wanted respect from Yale.
Locals 34 and 35 will seek that respect when they return to the bargaining table with the university next Tuesday.
Speakers at yesterday’s main rally said they hoped to put an end to fractious labor relations at Yale.
“We’re going to change that history,” said Laura Smith, president of Local 34. “Our future will not be a future of struggle and strife on this campus. That’s what this fight is about.”
Rally ’Round the Flag
Strikers continued to picket prominent campus locations yesterday, wearing sandwich board signs, chanting and blowing whistles. They said they are demanding higher wages, better benefits and more job security.
In keeping with the day’s theme, health care, the central rally yesterday was located in front of Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Hospital workers, who had been picketing nearby wearing purple SEIU hats and waving yellow flags emblazoned “Solidarity,” stood front and center in the crowd of thousands.
Leading up to the rally, the assembled strikers danced to songs like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
One picketer summed up this sentiment with a sandwich board sign that read, “Respect for all Yale workers and this community.”
SEIU District 1199 President Dennis Rivera said the strike would have national impact.