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Yale grad students demonstrate for student union rights

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NEW HAVEN — Grad students continued their demonstrations outside Yale University President Peter Salovey's home and office Thursday morning.

On Tuesday evening, eight graduate teachers began an indefinite fast in protest after they said the Yale University administration ignored a second and final deadline the union set to begin contract negotiations.

“I’ve been waiting for Yale to negotiate for four years. That doesn’t seem to matter to them,” said Aaron Greenberg, chair of Local 33 and one of the eight fasters said in a statement. “Now Yale tells us that we should wait longer and the process needs to be slower. So we will wait, without eating.”

Wednesday morning, the graduate teachers said they engaged in three simultaneous demonstrations, including setting up an encampment on the University’s central Beinecke Plaza, outside the office of Yale President Peter Salovey.

“We have pursued every legitimate avenue,” said Local 33 co-chair Robin Canavan in a statement. “The University opposed our right to vote, tried to cancel our federally-supervised elections, refused to acknowledge our legitimacy after we won, and is now trying to drown us in legal delays until President Trump intervenes on their behalf.”

Yale University released the following statement on Thursday morning:

"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.

Yesterday, however, eight graduate students affiliated with Local 33 announced that they will engage in a fast. This action is unwarranted by the circumstances. The university cannot compel anyone to refrain from this activity, but strongly urges that students not put their health at risk or encourage others to do so.

“My primary concern is for the health and safety of our students,” said President Peter Salovey. “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.”

The University and 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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