Some Yale University graduate students want to join a union. And they’re willing to starve for it.
Well, not really. Eight of the university’s graduate students are now in their second week of a “symbolic” hunger strike, which means that protesters fast on water alone until they “can no longer go on.” At that point, the protesters leave their posts and grab a bite to eat. Yes, really. Even though university administration is “strongly [urging] that students not put their health at risk or encourage others to do so,” the protesters are adamant that they’re hunger strike will “inspire joy,” if not actual hunger.
This has prompted widespread trolling. The Yale College Republicans organized a barbecue nearby in the early days of the “hunger strike,” while an anonymous Yale alumnus delivered the “fasting” students $200 worth of pizza.
The union drive is being carried out by UNITE HERE, which is employing a “micro-union” approach to organize graduate students department-by-department instead of university-wide. As we’ve explained before, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) legalized micro-unions to Balkanize workplaces so that a small group of unhappy workers can form their own union even if the larger group of workers has no interest in joining the union. (The fact that graduate students are even considered union-eligible employees stems from a 2016 NLRB ruling allowing them to unionize.) As it stands now, only 228 of Yale’s 2,600 students have cast eligible votes regarding unionization, illustrating UNITE HERE’s piecemeal approach.
Yale University: The school that gave us George H.W. Bush, Meryl Streep, and a bunch of students who eat pizza on hunger strikes.