More than 1,000 protesters joined Yale University graduate students, who've been demanding the school negotiate with them, ahead of graduation ceremonies on Monday.
The union members and supporters of Unite Here Local 33 took to the streets on Monday morning.
As the Yale administration began its procession, protestors sang songs and said they would not be stopped. They also cheered and yelled congratulations to the Yale students as they walked into their commencement ceremony.
"I think it's a day to celebrate and be very visible and to send a message to Yale, a very visible message that we are committed to sitting down with them and negotiating a contract," said Robin Canavan of Local 33.
The grad student union has been calling on Yale's administration to negotiate with them. For roughly a month, students have been protesting, a number of them even going on a hunger strike.
Back in February, the graduate students voted to form a union. They said they want better wages, benefits, along with better protection and response in regards to sexual harassment complaints.
But, Yale questioned the legality of the union and said it won't negotiate with the graduate students, until after the National Labor Relations Board hears its appeal.
"Graduate teachers voted to form a union months ago and the results were certified by the federal government, but still Yale refuses to negotiate with the certified units,"Local 33-UNITE HERE Chair Aaron Greenberg, a PhD candidate in the Political Science Department said. "We have invited our allies to participate in the commencement festivities and to stand with us in holding Yale accountable."
Protesters took a stand last month setting up steps away from the university president's office. Some graduate students took it further, denying themselves food for weeks.
The commencement ceremonies and protests prompted road closures in part of the city on Monday, but those roads were expected to reopen by late afternoon.
In recent weeks, the graduate teachers' call for Yale to negotiate has garnered support from national elected officials, academics, and activists including DNC Chair Tom Perez, DNC Deputy Chair U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, DNC Vice Chair Maria Elena Durazo, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO General Counsel and former NLRB member Craig Becker.
Protesters gathered ahead of graduation, which started at 10 a.m.
The Associated Press reports that Yale's commencement was briefly interrupted when a man ran onto the podium and grabbed the microphone. The unidentified man said just a few words about loving Yale before he was grabbed by security and taken away, the AP reported.
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