Last week, campus union organizers at Yale University gathered in a tent outside University President Peter Salovey’s home. The eight-member group was participating in a hunger strike in response to Yale’s unwillingness to negotiate a contract with its graduate teachers.
The graduate students voted to unionize in February, after three years of trying to get the union to sit down and negotiate a contract with its student workers failed to produce results.
The demands? Adequate health care coverage, equal pay, a safer working environment for women and increased diversity initiatives.
By Friday, it had been three days since the group had eaten. Conspicuously, college students with the Yale Republican Chapter decided to host a BBQ in close proximity to the hunger strike.
Before a Facebook event describing the BBQ was deleted, organizers wrote:
“It’ll taste (and smell) delicious!”
The college group cooked up a meal of beef, baked beans, and corn on the cob for community members.
Yale College Republicans barbecuing by union fast site pic.twitter.com/qf687cckxB
— gabrielwinant (@gabrielwinant) April 28, 2017
As Mic reports, the tactic has drawn comparisons to another recent barbecue which occurred halfway across the world. In that instance, an Israeli youth group held a barbecue outside a prison in which Palestinians were engaging in a hunger strike.
— Joe (@joedyke) April 20, 2017
The union is known as Local 33 and is a subgroup of the international labor union UNITE HERE. According to Breitbart, the university’s refusal is being appealed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Some claim that the university is holding out until Donald Trump appoints a new batch of anti-union members to the NLRB.
Commented Charles Decker, one of the fasting grad students: “The irony isn’t lost on me that a bunch of guys were having a party wearing Trump shirts just 50 feet away from from the administration that’s waiting for the Trump administration to bail them out.”
The activists continue to fast and are very serious about the cause, despite Conservative media’s claims that the hunger strike is “symbolic” only. This distorted perception comes from the fact that the group has standby fasters available in case the participating fasters experience a medical emergency. The original group continues to go without food.
“There are no breaks, and we don’t eat when we’re hungry,” Decker said. “We’re going to keep going until the administration comes to continue, or we can’t continue for medical reasons.”
“I assure you, we’re very hungry,” he added.
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