By: Commentator Staff  | 

From the Commie Archives (August 30, 2001; Volume 65, Issue 10) — Union Protests by Yeshiva

Editor’s Note: Due to the recent reappearance of a giant inflatable rat, courtesy of labor unions’ protesting YU’s hiring of a company to do asbestos work (this is the second time in two years the union has protested), The Commentator is reprinting an article from 2001 about a previous time the union has protested.

This past Friday, the Asbestos, Lead and Hazardous Waste Laborers' Local 78 brought a new pet home for Yeshiva students to play with. A fifteen-foot rat, placed first at the corner of 185th Street and Audubon Avenue, and then directly in front of Furst Hall, was inflated by the union to protest the fact that Yeshiva has hired a non-union company to perform its asbestos removal.

Handing out flyers that decried the labor policies of Sunstream Corporation, Matt, a union representative who declined to provide his last name, encouraged students to voice concerns for their safety to President Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm. Matt was accompanied by Spanish-speaking community liaison Jorge, who also declined to provide his last name. The ALHWL, according to Matt, has two such rats and has used them for durations of as long as six months in protesting the asbestos removal policies of organizations such as the ADL. In 1999, the union sued the NYPD after their rat was seized, which they claimed was a violation of their First Amendment rights. An additional claim in the suit was that police mistreated the rat, as it was "left outside, exposed to the elements."

The ALHWL seems to concur with the student body in assessing Yeshiva's extrications as "premium tuition rates" at the same time that it is "cutting corners."

The rat has inspired varied responses from Yeshiva students. Yehuda Shmidman, YC sophomore, declared that "the rat has moved me to erect my own inflatable figure to help me exclaim with joyous passion my love for the State of Israel." Said YC senior Steven I. Weiss, president of Yeshiva's ACLU club, "the need for living-wage reforms is vital to engendering a universal respect for the average wage-laborer." Added YCSC President Pinky Shapiro, "YU's labor comprises its weakest link."

While no member of the administration has issued any comments on the matter, student leaders wonder about the charges lobbied against Yeshiva and how long their sidewalks will continue to be furnished by the blow-up-beast.


Photo Caption: The Commentator Archives

Photo Credit: The Commentator