Demonstrators gather at Yale, protest lack of union contract negotiations

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Wednesday morning a group of students and staff from Yale University gathered outside the home of the university president. They could be heard chanting “Yale don’t hesitate, sit down and negotiate.”

“The university claims there are legal hold ups. Those are their own,” said Aaron Greenberg, chair of Local 33–Unite Here.

The issue stems from union contract negotiations. Back in February Yale graduate teachers in eight departments voted in favor of unionization in secret ballot elections that were administered by the National Labor Relations Board. Local 33 says the Yale administration refuses to begin contract negotiations. That’s why demonstrators are directing their dismay towards President Peter Salovey.

“They are just refusing to come to the table,” said Robin Canavin, co-chair of Local 33–Unite Here. “Everything else says they should negotiate with us in good faith.”

At one point, Yale police were called to the president’s home Wednesday. Demonstrators asked to get off the steps of the home and move onto the sidewalk.

Some of the people in attendance were out there on Tuesday as well. That’s when they started an indefinite fast which they say they will continue to do until the president talks to them.

“Me and my seven colleagues have decided to make this very significant sacrifice. We are waiting for the president to get back to us,” said Greenberg.

“My primary concern is for the health and safety of our students,” said President Peter Salovey in a statement to News 8. “While I deeply respect their right to freedom of speech and expression, I urge our graduate students to reconsider this decision and to avoid actions that could be harmful to their well-being.”

For this group, they say a union is needed.

“I think as community members of Yale University, as workers here, we deserve a voice and that’s why we want the union.

In a statement to News 8, Yale University said, “Local 33 has held a number of protests and demonstrations on campus, and Yale has fully respected those peaceful gatherings and the right of demonstrators to express their views-both pro and con-on the question of graduate student unionization. The University and UNITE HERE-Local 33 are jointly engaged with the National Labor Relations Board to resolve remaining issues concerning the unionization effort.  Yale will continue to respect this legal process, and accordingly has advised Local 33 that its request for collective bargaining is premature.”

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