GESO and GSEU’s strike begins:

Graduate-student unions at Columbia and Yale Universities plan to begin a one-week strike today, a protest they hope will encourage administrators to negotiate with them…At several private institutions, unions hope that public pressure will prompt administrators to voluntarily negotiate with them. Labor leaders argue that neither the NLRB ruling nor federal law prevents universities from negotiating with graduate-student unions. Teaching assistants participating in the strike will not teach their classes, possibly creating problems for undergraduates as the semester ends.

My piece on the strike in today’s YDN:

Today it’s key to remember which camp on this campus prefers negotiations to strikes and which prefers strikes to negotiations. GESO is in the former camp, having spent a decade calling in vain for President Levin to come to the table and this month asking yet again that the administration resolve this labor struggle by recognizing the vote certified by Connecticut’s secretary of state. President Levin, unfortunately, is in the other camp, willfully forcing another strike on this campus rather than have a discussion with the union in which a majority of humanities and social science TAs claim membership. At no point this year has this contrast been clearer than at President Levin’s February open forum, at which he responded to a student question by saying, “Yes, I would rather have them strike than meet with them, because I believe it would be less detrimental to the University.”

Hard to believe it was only a year and a half ago that President Levin was holding a joint press conference with HERE President John Wilhelm and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to announce the completed negotiation of contracts with locals 34 and 35 and the end of that fall’s strike. On that day, Levin expressed his hope that Yale’s administration and its employees would be able “to build a stronger, more cooperative relationship.” He told reporters that “in the end, it was the conversations that won the day, not the confrontation.” Some dared to hope that the “new era in labor relations” promised at the tercentennial had finally — however belatedly — arrived. Unfortunately, as hundreds of teaching assistants walk off their jobs, Levin seems to be working from the same old anti-union playbook. The “stronger, more cooperative relationship,” it appears, does not apply to the people who do a third of Yale’s teaching. Here, conversations will have little chance at winning the day as long as Levin continues to maintain that they would be more harmful to the University than the disruption of academic labor.

Picketing starts at 8:30.

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