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Graduate teaching assistants at Yale and Columbia universities kicked off a five-day strike Monday, an effort organizers hope will force Ivy League administrators to recognize them as a labor union.

It was the first multicampus strike for Ivy League graduate student teachers.

University administrators say the strikes should have minimal effect on classes. The number of strikers was not immediately available because graduate students teach classes at different times throughout the day.

The graduate students taking part have pledged not to teach classes, grade papers or host review sessions this week. Their demands include health care for family members and a grievance process that would allow student teachers to raise concerns with the universities.

The arrangements vary, but graduate students typically receive free tuition and a stipend, amounting to $18,000 at Columbia and $17,000 to $25,000 at Yale. Many receive health benefits, but the union also wants family health benefits.

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