The National Labor Relations Board has filed a lawsuit in federal court as a result of the tactics used by the Yale administration during the grade strike by Teaching Assistants (TAs) in December of 1995.
Last Friday, the president, provost and deans of Yale University were charged by the NLRB as a result of a complaint by TAs who were involved in a strike for union recognition.
"As employees, we have the right to organize with the confidence that we have some recourse, which of course put some constraint on the employer," said Robin L. Brown '88, a TA who was fired during the 1995 strike.
The "grade strike"--so-called because TAs withheld undergraduates grades--resulted from failed attempts at contract negotiations between the Yale administration and TAs.
Difficulties stemmed from the TA's not being able to unionize, said Eloise H. Pasachoff '95, chair of Graduate Employees and Student Organizations (GESO).
GESO lodged a complaint against the university in January of 1996.
The NLRB complaint accuses Yale administrators and professors of threatening its employees with expulsion, discharge, suspension and "a loss of spring semester teaching assignments and negative letters of recommendation" during the grade strike.
The complaint names Yale President Richard Levin, Provost Alison Richard, Graduate Dean Thomas Appelquist and Undergraduate Dean Richard Brodhead as violators of the federal labor law, according to a press release.
The government's NLRB received the complaint. The organization's general counsel announced his intention to file charges against Yale in November of 1996, the press release stated.
The GESO had originally intended to file the complaint in November of 1995 but decided to wait until January to see if they could settle the dispute outside of court, according to the press release.
"[The university] had the option of settling this case voluntarily," said Pasachoff. "The university has refused to settle. So now it's a matter for the courts to decide."
Pasachoff said that Yale has hired a "union-busting law firm" in New York to handle the case.
"They're pulling out all the stops," she said. "I know they're going to try to get around the notion that we are employees."
The GESO has made several attempts in the past eight years to establish recognition of a union, Brown said.
"It's very difficult to win because the university can basically do anything to you," she said.