Repeatedly, Local 33 has claimed GPSS and GSA successes as their own
Local 33 has more often than not agreed with the GSA/GPSS on the problems facing the student body. However, and more troubling, they claim to be behind successes such as 6th year funding and Eye & Dental when they were never even at the negotiating table. They often brought up the problem after a solution had already been finalized between the administration and the student body and claimed it as their own.
Their claims are not only false, but they also reflect Local 33's lack of understanding of the strategies required to bring about change. In some cases, such as the construction of additional graduate student housing, Local 33 and UNITE HERE leadership have actually been antagonistic to advocacy efforts. At a GSA meeting in 2014, when pressed on how Local 33 would accomplish any of its goals, Alderman Aaron Greenberg deferred and said that he would not know until they had a union, an incredibly lacking response. Read the full minutes from that meeting here.
A fellow graduate student talks about the misinformation perpetuated by Local 33:
"I'm glad to hear you're in GPSS. (The misinformation about GSA and GPSS that the organizers told the first years is unbelievable--that GESO is responsible for the dental/vision plans and the new centralized TA website, that GSA and GPSS only work on extending the pool hours at the gym, etc., etc. I've been trying to politely correct the misimpression...) So, students are complaining to GPSS? I've heard a fair bit of grumbling, but I'm never sure if it's just because word has gotten around that I'm a union holdout!"
Let's take a closer look at just a few of GPSS and GSA accomplishments which Local 33 has claimed and the level of strategy involved to negotiate with the administration that Local 33; a level of strategy Local 33 and its leaders have repeatedly shown no interest in.
GSA Representative: Disclaimer, I am a member of GESO, don’t meant to sound antagonistic. If you don’t have a plan for what your goals are after you get GESO to recognize[d], why should more people join?
Aaron Greenberg: This is a good question. I would hesitate to talk about specific goals.
Secure Teaching and Funding
We agree with the need to close funding loop-holes, and these are issues GSA and GPSS are currently working on and which the university needs to address. Interestingly, this little nugget was found under the "history" tab on Local 33's site:
What is so interesting about this is their claim of a "Funding Victory" as their own. Local 33 had nothing to do with securing sixth-year funding. This was entirely the work of GSA and GPSS. While the announcement came two months following a Local 33 protest, this was pure coincidence as the deal took months to put together and several rounds of discussions between GSA and Yale administrators. See below:
October 1, 2013 - GSA Chair, Brian Dunican, presents to Vice President of Student Life, Kim Goff-Crews, the need for secure sixth year funding and an update on the GSA's work on the matter to date.
December 6, 2013 - GSA Steering Committee presents to the Yale Corporation on a number of issues including sixth year funding.
GSA Steering Committee continues to discuss sixth year funding needs in biweekly meetings with Dean Tom Pollard and later, his successor, Dean Lynn Cooley.
October 15, 2014 - Local 33 holds a rally on unionization. There is no mention of sixth year funding:
"But at both protests, the rallying cry was not sixth-year funding. Instead, the protests were a continuation of GESO’s decades-long effort to be recognized by the University, and therefore gain a seat at the negotiating table. What is more, GESO leaders and Graduate School administrators have not met since the protests." (Source: Yale Daily News)
December 15, 2014 - Dean Cooley announces sixth year funding and gives credit to where credit's due: GSA.
GSA and GPSS have long advocated for additional graduate student housing, landlord accountability, and affordable housing. One major accomplishment of these housing efforts is the construction of new graduate student housing at 172 Elm Street (the empty lot next to Tyco). However, the project was stalled after alders backed by UNITE HERE cited parking concerns. Alder of Ward 1-D, which encompasses 172 Elm Street, Sarah Eidelson, is even the press contact for UNITE HERE. This is yet another example of how the best interests of graduate students do not align with the best interests of Local 33 leadership and UNITE HERE as 48% of graduate students said they wanted the housing while only 6% said that they did not. 46% of respondents were not familiar with the project (data below).
Eye and Dental
About six years ago, GPSS attended Ivy Summit, a gathering of student government leaders from each Ivy League university and MIT, and learned that all schools but Dartmouth and Yale had dental insurance. This was presented at a Corporation meeting where the former head of the CDC, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, a then member of the corporation, agreed that this needed to be fixed. This was one of the initial wins.
That prompted GPSS to start a dental expense fund. Students submitted a dental expense or potential reimbursement, and GPSS funded as much as possible. GPSS did three rounds of this, issuing a total of around approximately $7,500. GPSS was only able to partially fund (at a level of $50-100) the most emergent expenses. The total requested amount was $100,000 with applications from roughly 300 individuals.
It was a small band-aid for students costs, but what it did was provide GPSS with solid data on student dental usage. No longer could the administration blame it on a poorly written, hypothetical survey. Emily Stoops, GRD ’13, analyzed the data and presented numbers to the administration after each round.
This data along with data obtained from Ivy Summit won the battle.
The administration then called Delta Dental to start negotiations. There were lots of meetings on plans, numbers, opt-in versus opt-out, campus buy-in and support, etc.
That first year GPSS launched a huge advertising campaign. Toothbrushes and posters were given out while emails were sent. GPSS was responsible for answering all emails (hundreds of them, today GPSS still answers these emails) and was also responsible for taking all blame for various decisions, as they had been largely handed to us based on our understanding of student usage from the data we gathered. Yale Health did all the form data entry on a volunteer basis and communicated with GPSS when parts of forms were incomplete.
Enrollment far exceeded expectations. Delta Dental expected 8-10% based on our peer institutions. We hit somewhere between 20-30%.
The plan also cost Delta Dental more money than they expected and cost Yale Health more manpower than they expected. After several meeting, GPSS successfully negotiated an online enrollment with SAS for the second year. In the creation of an online presence we also made a FAQ in collaboration with Yale Health and negotiated with Delta Dental to split the difference on what they lost in terms of raising enrollment fees for the second year.
The second year evened out and now it's maintained on a year-to-year basis. Each summer, student representatives from the GSA and GPSS sit down to negotiate the Dental and Vision Plans with Delta Dental and EyeMed representatives, respectively. Representing all students across the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Yale's professional schools, student government and administrators from Yale Health work not only to settle the plans for the current year, but also to make improvements in the years to come.
Again, Local 33 has no involvement in these negotiations nor was Local 33 ever involved in the initial conversations that first paved the way for Eye and Dental coverage.
Last year, GPSS used funds originally allocated to student groups to assist parents who are either graduate and/or professional students. These funds were small, but provided some parents with assistance while providing GPSS and GSA with necessary data to more fully understand the challenges that G&P parents face and it shaped their proposals to Yale officials. GPSS and GSA have been working with the administration to ensure financial assistance for not only graduate student parents, but also professional student parents. GPSS and GSA have called for financial assistance and subsidized sliding scale spots reserved specifically for Yale student parents at Yale-affiliated centers, in addition to the expansion of current facilities. It is clear that the GSA and GPSS is holding the administration accountable for promises made pre-recession. The full 2016 report can be found here and the 2006 report can be found here.
Local 33 has made repeated demands for financial assistance for parents who are graduate student, but GPSS and GSA are the ones making it a reality.
"A seat at the table"
GPSS and GSA are happy to work with Local 33 on similar issues. However, Local 33 does not appear to want to work with GPSS or GSA.
"Local 33 often makes claims about students not having any control or relationship with the university administration, but doesn’t actually do their homework. 33 chair Aaron Greenberg once said to me, GESO is fundamentally about getting students 'a seat at the table’. I replied that as the President of GPSS, I had come from a 1-1 meeting with the president just that month, and that I meet with the corporation twice a year and the vice president monthly to discuss student concerns and long term initiative planning to address problems. I offered to work with him to present issues that he felt weren’t being properly brought up, but he never took me up on the offer. Since then I’ve still seen this ‘seat at a table’ printed out on posters and chanted in marches. Communication lines are open, and GESO leadership knows this. There is an argument to be made that those lines are insufficient, but to claim they don’t exist or refuse to ever try to work within them is just another example of bending reality give power to GESO leadership, rather than actually help grad students."
- Steve Reilly, 2014-15 GPSS President, GRD '16
Below is a sampling of some of the committees that GPSS and GSA elect student representatives to. In some cases, such as the Yale Health Member Advisory Committee, a GPSS Senator (Ernest Baskin GRD '15) was even elected to chair it, the first time a student was elected to do so. Descriptions of each committee can be found here.
Mental Health and Counseling Advisory Council
Yale Health Plan Member Advisory Committee
Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment
Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility
Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force
Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming
Minority Advisory Council
Committee of Review (joint with Yale College)
University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct
Advisory Committee on Resources for Students and Employees with Disabilities
Digital Humanities Committee
Human Subjects Committee
Task Force on Data Access and Use
Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board - Title IX Steering Committee
Schwarzman Center Advisory Committee
Advisory Committee on Graduate and Professional Student Housing
Graduate School Executive Committee
GSAS Dean’s Advisory Committee on Regulations and Discipline
GSAS Dean’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances
320 York Street Planning Committee
ITS Committee on Application Programming Interfaces
ITS Institutional Online Services Committee
ITS Committee on Organizational Management Software
Advisory Committee on Environmental Management
Association of Yale Alumni Board of Governors
Yale Alumni Magazine Editorial Board
Traffic Safety Subcommittee of the University Safety Committee