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Yale Labor Relations Tense After Walkout

By Sara A. Bibel

Relations between Yale administrators, workers and graduate students are tense in the wake of a one-day walkout earlier this week.

Graduate students at the university staged a one-day walkout Thursday in an attempt to gain official recognition for their union, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO).

Yale employees in Local 34 and Local 35 recognized the walkout and also did not attend work on Thursday, according to Deborah R. Chernoff, negotiations committee secretary and spokesperson for the unions. Local 34 represents clerical and technical workers, and Local 35 represents service and maintenance workers.

The graduate students picketed on the streets and staged a rally at the New Haven Coliseum which featured Jesse Jackson as a speaker, said Stephanie D. Plasse, editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News.

Plasse said that later in the day there was a small rally in front of the office of Yale President Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.

Chernoff said that Yale does not recognize graduate students as workers and therefore will not acknowledge their union or negotiate with the students.

The unions are supporting the students, Chernoff said, because they believe that Yale is mistreating them. "We think that grad students on campus have the right to form a union and we're going to continue to support them with resources, ideas and solidarity," Chernoff said.

The walkout had both short and longterm effects for Yale, Plasse said.

"The literal effects were that all the dining halls except one were closed, so everyone was forced to eat at the restaurants off campus." Plasse said. "Many professors moved their lectures off campus, and almost all TF's moved their sections off campus."

"This was the first day that undergrads started caring about this situation," said Plasse. "We're just entering reading period, so a lot of students were minimally aware of the events."

Plasse said a strike was a likely possibility. "Most people now, after seeing the seriousness of the GESO, see a much higher probability of a strike," she said.

As a result of the walkout, 50 union workers were suspended for violating their contracts and all the striking workers were docked one day's pay, Plasse said.

Local 34 and Local 35 have their own disputes with Yale. Both are presently in the process of negotiating new contracts.

"We're going back into negotiations next week," said Chernoff. "There will be an end to this situation sooner or later. The university has said they want to gut our job security. We want some improvements in job security and a slight increase in wages.

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