Fun_People Archive
17 Jan
Yale update.

Date: Wed, 17 Jan 96 16:06:03 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Yale update.

Forwarded-by: (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Phil Agre <>

Subject: URGENT UPDATE FROM YALE GESO: Yale 'Trials & TA Lockout'

January 13, 1996

Dear Friends:

Here's the latest on the Yale strike:

This past Wednesday, 138 people were arrested for blocking the street in
front of the Yale Graduate School in protest over the disciplinary hearings
going on against three leaders of the union here.  There was a total of
over 500 people at the demonstration, including workers from the other Yale
unions and faculty and graduate students from other universities throughout
the New York/New England region.

The "trials" took much longer than anyone expected.  The first five hours
were taken up with negotiations over whether or not our lawyer -- a Yale law
professor -- would be allowed to address the Disciplinary Committee on
procedural issues, and ended with the Committee ruling that he could not.
So we had a lawyer present who was not allowed to say a word throughout the
proceedings.  The Committee would not allow a union steward to participate
in the hearings, and refused a request to tape record the proceedings.  When
the person being charged asked to question the Dean of the Graduate School,
she was required to write out a short list of questions, which the Committee
read privately to the Dean, and then summarized his answers, with no chance
for cross-examination.  After a day and a half of hearings, the Committee
found Diana Paton guilty of "disrupting University business" and "refusal to
obey an order issued in the line of duty by a faculty member."  She has had a
letter of reprimand placed in her file, and is barred from teaching for the
spring semester, i.e. she was fired from her spring semester job.  The second
case is scheduled to be heard on Monday, and the third either late this coming
week or the beginning of the following week.

While we're obviously relieved that Ms. Paton was not expelled, to be banned
from teaching is illegal under federal labor law.  On Thursday we filed  
charges against the Yale adminsitration for violating the National Labor
Relations Act, though since the courts have not yet ruled whether graduate
teachers are covered under the Act, it may take years before this case is

Meanwhile, Yale is going ahead with plans to lock out all strike participants.
Last week, all teaching assistants got letters at home threatening that if
they did not turn in grades by the start of the spring semester on Monday,
January 15, they will be fired.  Yale is on the way to becoming the first
university to use academic "replacement workers" -- several departments are
recruiting anti-union faculty and graduate students to take the jobs of fired
TA's.  Faculty members who are known "liberals" in their scholarly work are
now cancelling lectures, eliminating discussion sections, or capping under-
graduate enrollment in order to comply with the administration's lockout
strategy.  It's not clear whether Yale can really get by with so many TA's
locked out, how much undergraduate education will be compromised, and how the
incredible bitterness and tension in the Graduate School will play out.

On Sunday, Jan. 21, the contracts for Yale's other two unions expire.  These
unions, representing clerical workers, technicians, dining hall, custodial
and maintenance workers, are facing their own problems, with Yale asking for
major cuts in wages and benefits.  GESO is officially allied with the other
Yale unions, and there is a real possibility of a campus-wide strike during
part of the coming semester.

There have been some TA's who have been intimidated by Yale's tactics and
have handed in their grades. For the most part, however, the strike  
are holding strong, and we're hopeful that the administration will begin talks
soon.  Last week's lockout deadline for those TA's who teach their own courses
came and went without a single person handing over their grades.  The pressure
from outside academics remains critical -- your letters to President Levin
(, Yale faculty ( and the
campus paper (, together with the censure motions at
the academic conventions, are creating increasing pressure on the  
to negotiate.  The administration's style in the past is always to say "no,  
never" right up util the last minute, so we take their current intransigence
with a large grain of salt. Between the strikers on campus and supporters in
the broader community, we're confident that we can bring Yale to the  

With some people already locked out of jobs, and anticipating the possibility
of a broader strike, we have begun a hardship fund to help pay the rent,
utilities, etc. of people who are without jobs.  If you are interested in
contributing, checks can be made out to GESO, with a notation of "hardship
fund", and sent to 425 College St., New Haven, CT, 06511.  In the event of a
campus-wide strike, the hardship fund will be made available to members of the
other Yale unions in addition to the TAs.

Again -- thanks incredibly for your support.

Gordon Lafer,
Research Director, Federation of University Employees at Yale

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