This front-page story in the YDN focuses on the committee formed in Local 35 which will consider fines – along with other approaches, like new organizing approaches – as a response to the 1 to 2 percent of the membership that continued working during the strike. It’s quite similar to a story the YDN ran a couple weeks back on the same topic, also as a top story. What’s missing is a conversation with any of the hundreds of members who’ve pushed for a response; their absence contributes to the sense that setting up a committee is some kind of autocratic punitive stratagem by Bob Proto. That sense, and the erasure of workers from the narrative, are furthered by the absence of any mention of Bob Proto’s uncontested re-election as President of Local 35 yesterday, or of the race for Chief Steward.

Also misleading is this front-page analysis which continues the YDN’s narrative of GESO of late: GESO sinned by organizing and was punished by losing the referendum last spring, and has since redeemed itself by pushing issues instead. While this account has meant some less openly nasty coverage of GESO by the YDN of late, it demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the labor movement works, one shared by too many students. Unions don’t choose between pushing issues to make members happy or organizing to make their leaders happy. Unions organize by bringing workers together through common experience and interest and shared issues, and unions bring change on issues through the power of their organizing. GESO has, as the YDN acknowledges, been responsible for substantive change in the benefits and resources Yale makes available to its graduate students. But only through the power of its organizing, and the threat of unionization. So while it’s true, and admirable, and GESO has conducted an exciting series of surveys, produced damning and enlightening reports, and generated its first unified platform over the past months, pushing for change on the issues which affect graduate students is not a new development – and organizing and fighting for recognition are not only old news.

This editorial from the new board of the YDN repeats the usual anti-union catechism: GESO is ideologically “tainted,” dangerously “single-minded,” and suspicious for its concern with, say, the job security of graduate students. It also suggests, falsely but popularly, that arguments against casualization of academic labor – the transformation of teaching jobs into low-wage, no-security, short-term positions – are about impugning the quality of graduate student and adjunct teachers, rather than about improving their conditions, lessening their workload, and brining in more ladder faculty to contribute to the academic work of the University. Even the YDN Board, however, is forced to conclude that GESO’s new report on casualization, “Blackboard Blues,” raises urgent issues that undergraduates would do well to be aware of and speak out about, and about which Yale’s administration has been suspicously silent. As the Board writes:

TAs don’t replace good professors, and an overreliance on visiting faculty can create a revolving-door of professors that leaves students in the lurch. Visiting professors should supplement full-time professors, not replace them. These concerns warrant a critical examination of the role of non-tenured faculty, and we are disappointed the academic review did not include one. We urge the administration to expand tenure opportunities or consider ways to increase institutional support for deserving faculty. At the same time, however, the contributions of our non-tenured faculty should be recognized.

UOC undergrads and GESO grad students hosted a forum this weekend to discuss this issue with visiting parents, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We’ll be bringing those conversations to parents’ homes around the country in fora next month. Check out the schedule here.

I’d have to count being satirized on the front page of Monday’s Joke Issue of the YDN (not on-line, for good reason) as a mark of pride for the UOC.

…they will spend all of today flagellating themselves with horsewhips on Beinecke Plaza in the middle of a mock-up Guilty Rich Kids Way Village…

I know it’s in to assume that all students making noise are spoiled effete bourgeois white activists, but if there’s someone in the UOC

supping a Starbucks caramel machiato, wearing a North Face jacket and sobbing on the corner of Wall and York streets

I’m pretty sure it isn’t me. Speaking of which, still have finished doing the first load of laundry of the year…

Zach agrees that to see the Editorial Board of the YDN slamming University Properties for the vision for New Haven suggested by replacing a supermarket with a specialty running gear store, but faults me for not noting that they passed up the opportunity to Yale’s entire colonial project in the city. I guess I figured that was assumed until noted otherwise. I mean, I’d like to see the YDN come out for dismantling the Yale Corporation and replacing it with a Worker’s Co-operative, but they’re even less likely to give me that than that pony I asked them for (not that I’d have anywhere to put it). As I see it, for an editorial board closely aligned with and fairly uniformly supportive of the leadership of this University to take it to task for acting like New Haven belongs only to “upper-middle-class Yalies, wealthy suburbanites and runners who demand a certain kind of windpants,” is a real victory and a bad sign for Yale’s colonial project.

Perhaps in anticipation of their departure at the end of the week, the YDN Editorial Board has printed an unusually articulate, compelling, and critical editorial in today’s paper, discussing University Properties’ choice to replace Krauzner’s on York Street:

We fear, in particular, that Sound Runner’s inapplicability to much of the community, apart from the serious runners in need of serious running clothing among us, reflects University Properties’ questionable motives for its selection of what retailers and restaurants fit best in the area surrounding Yale. The coming of this retailer typifies a development scheme that seems aimed to serve a dual purpose in the city: gentrifying for the sake of an image and further narrowing the level of clientele who will be drawn to the area. Despite what the newly unveiled roster of stores may seem to indicate, Broadway and New Haven are not just commercial destinations for upper-middle-class Yalies, wealthy suburbanites and runners who demand a certain kind of windpants.

If Yale’s vision for New Haven is drawing the ire of the Yale Daily News (as well as Republican economists), one wonders what kind of support it has left…

Tonight will be the second night the wall of shame Yale retirees set up across from President Levin’s office in a ceremony yesterday will continue standing on Woodbridge. The wall shares the names, years of service, and pension statistics of retirees, including Shirley Lawrence’s mother, who put in decades of service at Yale only to have the University buy out her housing as part of its expansion and gentrification process, leaving her with an unlivable pension and without a home. Shirley has worked at Yale for years and is now an organizer for Local 35; she spoke at our teach-in on Friday and at a moving forum with Yale Union Women held tonight at the Women’s Center. Every member of this community should take the time to stop by the wall and talk to the men and women holding a vigil there – including my peer who wrote, in an article on David Horowitz’s website earlier this week:

A Yale sophomore argued (somewhat unintelligibly) in the Yale Daily News that “To defend a pension plan which left the average Yale retiree of 2000 with a $609 per month pension while proposing to offer Levin a $42,000 monthly pension and investing the rest of the fund is indefensible.” Yet the unions hold out as their examples “victims” who, having worked at Yale less than 30 years, are not long-term workers and, as such, have no right to the full retirement package provided under the current contract.

The full retirement package, unfortunately, isn’t much to brag about either. But don’t take it from me – take it from the intelligible, reputable, and often viciously anti-union YDN editorial board, which acknowleged it in an otherwise unsurprising editorial at the beginning of the strike, or from Richard Levin himself, who begrudgingly agreed the pensions needed improvement after some of the men and women standing across from his office now took over the Investment Office. Better to hear about it from those folks themselves though. And if you ask nicely, they’ll also teach you how to knit.

A few personal experiences and impressions of the past 72 hours:

The eight Yale retirees (three of whom had to leave for medical reasons, five of whom held out for the full 24 hours) are real heroes whose perseverance is a model to all of us and whose victory presses the movement forward and raises the bar for everyone within it – and within this community. Their victory demonstrates the combination of strategically savvy and symbolically appropriate tactics, solidarity of workers, clergy, students and community, media scrutiny, organizing strength, sheer numbers, and iron will necessary for a victory like hasn’t been seen here since the ’84 strike. The whole episode, from the moment the eight declared that they weren’t leaving David Swenson’s office without a meeting to the moment that – poised to arrest them – Yale announced that it would instead grant their request, also dramatized both the shameful lengths to which Yale will go to perpetuate injustice and the potential and urgency to save Yale University from the Yale Corporation. The three times I was turned away and/or threatened with arrest by Yale police for trying to enter the Investment Building with hoagies for the retirees – who’d been hold up in the office for hours without food or use of the bathroom for several hours at this point – spoke volumes, as did the necessity for New Haven police to take jurisdiction because my University refused to allow food or bathroom facilities to a few elderly employees who showed up after decades of service to the University to confront the man who’s been quietly investing their pension fund in insider trading rather than in decent pension offers for the next generation of Yale workers. It was the sight of fifteen riot police entering the building to drag out five senior citizens, however, that was most deeply infuriating, and Yale’s last-minute realization that to have them do so would shame Yale’s leadership such that it would become more difficult to carry forward its regressive agenda was small comfort. It’s shameful that when light and truth rear their heads at Yale, Yale tries to lock out the light and starve out the truth.

The TV media did a better-than-usual job of covering the sit-in, in part because it was visual and in part because of Rev. Jackson’s presence. The most salient facts – why the retirees went in, that they won, and that Yale was poised to have riot police drag them out – came across on pretty much all the channels. The print media, including the YDN, was unfortunately dismissive of the drama, giving on average a sentence at the end of an article contextualizing the strike about a successful sit-in calling for a meeting but giving no sense of how or why it happened – or that it lasted 24 hours.

As in the last strike, few experiences are more powerful than walking the lines and talking to workers about why they’re out and what they’re fighting for. There are few ways someone in this city of any political perspective (including, perhaps, readers of this site) could be doing with an hour on a weekday morning than talking to the men and women who, yet again, Yale has forced to the point of challenge and personal sacrifice for lux and veritas. I met a fourth grader who’s walking the picket lines for the fourth time because, he explained, of a very greedy man who isn’t very good at sharing his toys.

Jesse Jackson, Emelio Hernandez, David Lee, and others have brought home over the past few days a point that cannot be emphasized enough: the civil rights movement cannot be separated from the movement for economic justice without destroying the integriy of the movement and insulting the dignity of those who compose it. On day after the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, this point has a particular urgency. It’s strange how much more easily middle class Americans tend to believe that the liberty of bosses is contingent on their right to private property than that the freedom of workers is contingent on their right to wages. A classmate once accused me of disgracing the memory of MLK by wearing a pin with a photo of him at an SEIU 1199 rally (the union he often described as his “favorite union”). When I asked how it was inappropriate to celebrate a photo of an event that actually happened he suggested that MLK must have been caught by coincidence standing in front of an SEIU podium. To say that where a woman can sit on a bus is a moral issue but whether she can raise enough money to feed her family is merely a political question is a convenient but fundamentally unjust contention.

Today was one of the most intense freshman move-in days Yale has seen. The civil disobedience was of a much more serious and more dramatic character than last September, and the picket lines were some of the thickest and loudest I’ve seen here. The UOC gave out several hundred copies of our new pamphlet to freshmen and families, most of whom came off understandably as mostly overwhelmed, confused, anxious, and eager to get more information. Yale forced our table off of Old Campus on the grounds that, in the words of Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg, we were there “to bias freshmen, not to orient them.” Meanwhile, the Office of New Haven and State Affairs had three tables set up trying to get students on board with their agenda of condescension and division by giving our lollipops and tape measures. And the crew team had a thirty foot boat in the middle of campus. Yale police also stopped us from entering dorms to poster; one man told me I wasn’t allowed to enter with the poster I had and when I asked whether I could go in to put up, say, a capella posters, he referred me to his boss, who told me no one was allowed to enter with any kind of poster and then asked to see my posters. When I confronted Dean Brodhead about this he told me that I wasn’t being forced off of Old Campus myself, and so democracy was intact.

As we already knew, Scott Marks is a much better speaker than Jesse Jackson; John Wilhelm is a much better speaker than John Sweeney; Howard Dean is a much better speaker than Joe Lieberman.

Yale’s last minute decision to postpone tomorrow’s freshman invocation, an event which to my knowledge has never been cancelled in the University’s history (including during, say, World War), on the grounds of “the threat posed by our unions,” represents a resounding acknowledgement by Yale that contrary to their publicity, business is not going on as usual here, and the crisis is not under control. John Wilhelm was right to say, of of Yale’s prior claims that hardly anyone was out on strike and there was no disruption, “That’s exactly the problem – you do all the work here, and Yale can’t see you.” He also added that – as Yale’s contract offer makes clear – Yale can’t count. This was abundantly clear when Yale produced statistics purporting to show that strike turnout was low which left out 800 Yale workers – guess where they were? Perhaps one of them was Associate VP for New Haven and State Affairs Mike Morand’s secretary, who despite getting ample exposure to Yale’s side – which Conroy et al claim the union leadership is blinding the workers to – is out on strike.