A conservative Yale University student group hosted a barbecue on Friday several feet away from a self-styled graduate student union participating in a “hunger strike” to protest the university administration.
Members of the Yale College Republicans served barbecued beef, baked beans and corn to the campus community – just inches away from hunger striking members of the “union”, Local 33, which is protesting Yale’s refusal to treat them like a real union and negotiate.
Local 33 were widely mocked on social media after a leaflet calling for action resurfaced saying that graduate students will go on “hungry strike” until they get hungry, at which time they will be replaced with other protesting students.
“Instead of eating your lunch, sit with us and lift our spirits,” read the flier.“When one of us cannot continue, come take our place.”
The protesters weren’t swayed by the Republicans’ barbecue, instead focusing on continuing their strike. According to the New Haven Register, eight Yale protesters haven’t eaten in days.
Yale College Republicans barbecuing by union fast site pic.twitter.com/qf687cckxB
— gabrielwinant (@gabrielwinant) April 28, 2017
“I’m not really focused on that,” said Local 33 chairman Aaron Greenberg. “I’m focused on making sure we have lots of water, make sure I’m healthy. We have a check-in with our nurse this afternoon. We are focused on that.”
The Yale College Republicans’ barbecue hewed to a long tradition of Yale undergraduates mocking the efforts of graduate students to form a union.
For more than two decades, Yale has been feuding with its arts and humanities graduate students over whether they can form a union. Yale argues that the students are just that, students, most of whom get free tuition. Yale further argues that the teaching assistant work these elite students do (for a stipend) is part of their education.
The graduate students have long argued that they make almost no money and have dire prospects on the moribund academic job market — and that Yale takes advantage of them to teach bratty, wealthy undergraduates for pennies.
GESO, as the graduate student union used to be called, finally won big when the NLRB ruled last year that graduation students at another Ivy League university, Columbia, can unionize. Yale is now among the universities challenging the NLRB’s ruling – and has no interest in bargaining with its graduate students in the mean time.
Greenberg, the Local 33 chairman, claims Yale is stalling until President Trump appoints new head of the National Labor Relations Board more sympathetic to Yale’s position.
He added that Yale President Peter Salovey in tandem with other “top members of the Yale administration and members of the Yale Corporation are deciding to side with Donald Trump over members of their own community. I think that is unacceptable. I think that is despicable. They say we have to wait so we are waiting without eating.”