Tag: Yale

Bad Dick

by on Oct.04, 2010, under Uncategorized

For a while there, Mother Yale had one of the worst labor-management track records among United States corporations, with strikes every four years like clockwork as the university saw with the expiration of a labor contract another opportunity to extract concessions from its unionized workforce, and then acted surprised when the unions resisted their evil plan to fire everybody with a decent job and replace them with minimum-wage subcontracts to Betty Crocker International or some such.

When I went there, the two head honchos were University President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead. There persisted a stubborn belief among the students that Levin was the Bad Dick and Brodhead the Good Dick, mostly because Levin, an economist, is a geek and is less fun to be around than Brodhead, a literary humanist, who can deliver a fine and funny lecture on American literature. As far as I could tell there was no other basis for thinking Brodhead had better politics, and I’m not surprised to see the prejudice definitively refuted in Brodhead’s practices as University President at Duke:

The cushy administrative salaries and bonuses add up to an indictment of the Brodhead administration for allowing the burden of the fiscal crisis to fall unevenly: bonuses for the brass, a direct hit for cafeteria workers, groundskeepers, housekeepers, clerks and underpaid adjunct faculty who lost their jobs.
Bad Dick! Glad that’s settled.
(Via Canavan.)
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Meet Josh and Josh

by on Jan.21, 2010, under Uncategorized

I suppose there are some readers of this blog who haven’t met one or the other Joshes in person. Here’s a little taste of what we look (and of course, sound) like.

I am everyone in this video. (Another reason to choose Yale.) That is, everyone except for the one who is Josh Malbin. He can be seen wearing the Chinese dragon costume in the “8 Cultural Centers” bit.

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Me and the Sween

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Politics

John Sweeney retires. Two and a half cheers for the last fourteen years! Sweeney’s rise to the top of the AFL-CIO was an unambiguous victory for the labor movement against its worst self. It was a successful trickle-up of the renewed organizing energy that took over service worker unions in the late 1980s. The New Voices coalition, Sweeney’s governing troika, comprised fire-breathing orator (and now successor) Rich Trumka from the United Mine Workers and AFSCME’s Linda Chavez-Thompson, who came out of  open-shop organizing in Texas’s public sector. Their election in 1995 struck the first real blow from the left to Clintonism that came from north of Chiapas’s Zapatistas.

Harold Meyerson gets it right in the article linked above: “Sweeney repositioned labor as best he could, and with considerable success, at the center of American liberalism.” Its fortunes have not been so far off those of liberalism, either, with occasional displays of strength marred by fecklessness and disunity. His AFL-CIO was riven by internal stress over the appropriate resources and perceptible rewards of electioneering and organizing. The Change to Win split of 2005 might have presaged a renewal comparable to John Lewis’s extraction of the Congress of Industrial Organizations from the original American Federation of Labor. Instead, labor is mired in turf battles, leaving legislative opportunities around health care and labor law reform twisting in the wind.

But this can all be found, in greater detail and more perceptive analysis, on the public record. By way of fond farewell, I want to retell my memory of Sweeney speaking at the giant civil disobedience arrests during the Yale contract fight in the winter of 1996. Several thousand people stood at the corner of College and Grove streets, more than three hundred of us prepared to be arrested in protest of Yale’s plan to replace its unionized blue-collar workforce with subcontracted minimum-wagers. The unions’ logos were projected–a new tactic, then–onto Woolsey Hall, the massive rotunda that defines Fortress Yale against the surrounding city. Sweeney, not known as a firebrand, took the podium and declaimed, in a kind of Long Island honk, words that had been written all too particularly for this occasion:

“In the words of seventeenth-century poet John Donne, ‘Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Yale… It tolls for thee!‘”

The crowd went wild, though a kind of bemused, did-that-just-happen wild. And then I got arrested for the second time.

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