Yale Graduate Students Wage Hunger Strike To Force Union Contract Negotiations

Apr 26, 2017

Eight graduate teaching assistants at Yale University have begun a hunger strike in an attempt to force the school into union contract negotiations. 

Aaron Greenberg, chair of Local 33-Unite Here -- and one of the fasters -- said they've waited too long for Yale to come to the bargaining table.

"Yale has said they want us to wait," said Greenberg. "They said that bargaining is premature, so we're going to wait without eating."

Hundreds of supporters and Local 33 members marched silently in the rain Tuesday night to the home of Yale President Peter Salovey. There, they announced the "Fast Against Slow."

In a statement by Yale, officials said the fast is "unwarranted by the circumstances."

Salovey said that while he respects the right to freedom of speech and expression, he's urging graduate students to reconsider their decision and avoid actions that could be harmful to their health.

Earlier this year, eight university departments voted in favor of unionization after the National Labor Relations Board granted them the right to hold elections.

But Yale is challenging the strategy of holding elections on a department-by-department basis and disputes the determination that the school's teaching fellows are employees. The university administration said requests for collective bargaining are premature, since a review is still pending before the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

Union members said Yale should expect daily protests.