In a display that is becoming increasingly familiar to college students across the country, including here at the University, 5,000 service workers began a five-day strike at Yale University. Participants from a variety of unions and hundreds of graduate students who are not part of a union that the university recognizes, are participating in the strike, which began yesterday. These workers are seeking higher pay and more generous pensions. Yale should cooperate with these workers and ensure that they receive a living wage.
The strike has been a long time coming, since workers have been mistreated by Yale for years. In 1996, workers struck for two months. Since the negotiations preceding the current dispute began about a year ago, the unions have reduced their wage demands four times. Yale has not changed its offer even once. Labor negotiations held in good faith can only be successful if both parties are willing compromise and listen to the demands of the other party.
Even more troubling, unlike many public universities around the country, Yale is not in dire financial straits. Its endowment is a stunning $11 billion, larger than many countries’ gross domestic products. With an endowment so large, it is inconceivable that many of Yale’s workers must rely on state assistance to support their families. A prestigious institution such as Yale should not finance the education of tomorrow’s leaders by shortchanging the workers who make that education possible. Yale should be paying these service workers a living wage. It should also provide its workers with a pension that will allow them to retire comfortably and avoid poverty in old age.
Despite the fact that the strike is scheduled to end this week when students go home for a two-week vacation, Yale should settle this dispute as soon as possible because the curtailing of services that the strike is causing is hampering Yale’s educational environment. For example, Yale has been forced to give students $170 vouchers in order to buy food as a result of dining hall shutdowns. Some professors have also been forced to hold classes in churches and caf