MEMBER PROFILES: Lisa Stevens & Evie Calo April 10, 2013Posted by Local 34 in Uncategorized.
LISA STEVENS (Left)
POSITION: Medical Assistant DEPARTMENT: Yale Cancer Center
JOINED YALE: 1996 HOMETOWN: New Haven
EVELISSE (EVIE) CALO (Right)
POSITION: Clinical Receptionist II DEPARTMENT: Yale Cancer Center
JOINED YALE: 2005 (YNHH 2004) HOMETOWN: New Haven
EVIE: When I first heard of New Haven Works (NHW), I didn’t know what to expect. But after my first meeting, I knew this was something really cool. I’ve been volunteering regularly to help get NHW ready to open, and working on a NHW pilot project with Yale to test our process of matching residents to good jobs. I’ve really enjoyed it!
A lot of people trying to get into Yale feel like they’re hitting a brick wall. By learning as much as we can about employers’ hiring processes, we can help residents apply for jobs and interview well—we’re giving people skills and bringing them together. I met one woman who is so jazzed about the program that she calls just to ask about how we’re doing. She told me: “Even if I don’t get into Yale, I want to know about someone else who did.”
As we get ready for our first open orientations, it’s clear that for NHW candidates to get hired at Yale they will need to be qualified, and departments like mine will have to participate in the process. Just last week I got to join other Local 34 members in a meeting with a very supportive manager who plans to work to make this happen in our department.
LISA: I volunteer Saturday mornings at NHW, but mainly I recruit people outside of the office. Some I know, some I don’t know—friends of friends contact me. The response is positive because these people want hope and NHW is giving them some hope, giving them a chance.
For neighborhoods in New Haven to be strong, people need good jobs like ours. On the other hand, we as Local 34 members will not be able to keep improving our wages and benefits if economic conditions in the community around us continue to get worse.
CONTRACT UPDATE: New Stewards Trained to Implement Hiring and Advancement Contract Language April 10, 2013Posted by Local 34 in Uncategorized.
Local 34 contract enforcement work took a big step forward on Saturday, March 16, when over a dozen recently-elected Executive Board members and other upcoming leaders joined shop leaders from Local 217 for a stewards’ training. With their expanded knowledge of the contract and Union rights, Local 34 stewards-in-training will lead work this spring to implement the hiring and advancement language in our new contract and help members stand together to address issues in their departments.
Lucille Dickess, 1934–2013 March 6, 2013Posted by Local 34 in Uncategorized.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of our sister and first Local 34 President, Lucille Dickess.
I first knew Lucille through the reverent stories that so many of you told me. I eventually got to know her myself during our Fall 2003 strike (after she led a group of Local 34 and 35 retirees to occupy Yale’s investment office over our pensions) and saw how truly lucky we have been. No one could match her poise and optimism and humor and grit. No one else could have led the union through that amazing and tumultuous time with such grace.
There will be a memorial service at Iovanne Funeral Home on Saturday March 23, 2013 from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the CT Food Bank, P.O. Box 8686 New Haven, CT 06531. You can view her obituary here.
I hope you will take a few moments to read excerpts (below) from an extraordinary interview with Lucille about the formation of our union. Please also share your ideas about the best ways to honor her memory.
Excerpts from a 2009 conversation with Lucille
I had totally rejected the UAW because they told us they were going to do it, and not to worry about anything. ”Sign the card, we’ll take care of everything.” When HERE came in, it was different. With HERE it came down to, “This will be your union, and you’ll have to make of it what you will.” Now, none of us knew anything about unions, really, so this was an amazing step we took, just to say, “The worst thing here are job descriptions and salaries.” But how in the world do you fix that? Where do you begin to fix that?
Well, the HERE organizers said, “You have to talk to everybody,” and that made sense to me.
I loved the structure. Loved it. I just loved it. I’m responsible for sixty-one people. I know who’s got trouble at home, who’s got trouble at work, who’s being threatened. This was so satisfying, mathematically, and physically, and emotionally, and practically. A lot of people were very afraid to get involved. I was hearing from people, “I’m afraid I’ll get fired.” ”I don’t know anything about unions.” ”You have to pay union dues.” ”I’ll get in trouble.” ”Nobody else here is interested, it’s only me.” There were probably as many reasons as there were people, when you got right down to it.
I remember we had a petition – I can’t even think which one, but we had 1,200 people sign, and when you looked at the whole sheet, it was so impressive. You looked and found your tiny name there, and then you could see, “Oh, she signed. Oh, look at her – she signed.”
We didn’t know where we were going, but we were going. One of the first times I spoke at Battell Chapel, I remember saying to people, “It’s kind of like when you get married, or you get divorced, or your kid goes to school. You don’t know what’s coming, but you know you’re going along this way. And so without knowing, it’s scary. But whatever we do, it’s going to be ours, and the mistakes we make are going to be ours, and we’re going to decide, what are we doing?”
When they finally announced the vote, I was standing next to Marguerite Anderson, Frank Anderson’s wife, and I was crying, and she was crying, and I remember she was saying, “Free at last! Lord, free at last!” Yeah, that was something.
Right after I became president of Local 34, I was invited to a Local 35 membership meeting so people would get to meet me. I told them that I had scabbed. Because I’d been asked to work in dining halls when one of the strikes was on. I was just divorced, there was no sign of any child support coming in, and also my husband had signed bankruptcy, so everybody in the world was coming after me for all of these bills he hadn’t paid, and I still had one child at home. So I didn’t give a thought to the fact that people were out on strike – all I thought was, I can make some extra money. And I went into dining halls and I scabbed, I told them.
I just wanted them to know: don’t ever write anybody off, because I changed. I came all that way from non-thinking, not knowing, and I learned, and so here’s where I am now. So a lot of people were not too thrilled to hear me say this, but afterwards Tom (Gaudioso) said to me, “I’ve got to give it to you: you had a lot of balls to say that to them.” And I said, “Well, I wanted them to understand somehow that when we were crossing their lines, we weren’t thinking, we weren’t conscious of what was going on, and shame on us that we didn’t find out about it. But once we did, we learned: here’s how you do.”
35 was always a model to me. They really were. To accept us, who had crossed their lines for so many years – to accept us as their partners, to work together and never mind our differences, to put aside all that resentment and hurt and join together so closely that we were really brothers and sisters.
In 1984, the members of Local 34 struck for 10 weeks to win a first contract.
The general feeling all over town was that these people are having a good time and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. What’s going on? People wrote newspaper articles saying, “These people don’t know how to strike. They’re singing and they had a bake sale, and what the hell kind of picket line is this?”
It was staggering the amount of people who became interested. Just staggering. You just couldn’t believe it. You have to understand that in the beginning none of us knew how this was going to end up, or how it was going to be. We were jumping out of the airplane. We had no idea that it was going to be as big and important and worldwide, and that anybody else would pay any mind, that anybody would be interested, never mind care. So this was a continual source of amazement to all of us as we went along – that, holy mackerel, here comes César Chávez. What the hell? And here comes the head of NOW. Pete Seeger wrote me a letter and wanted our music. It was just absolutely overwhelming that we were doing something that had such a significance to so many other people
Years later, I bumped into (a woman from the picket line) and she said, “You know, that was the most wonderful thing I ever did in my entire life.” And I would bet, if you went around and asked everybody who was out on the line in that strike, you’d have 95% of them say the same thing. Absolutely. Because you were taking the power yourself.
John (Wilhelm) doesn’t like it when I thank him, but he was responsible for even thinking that I could be a leader, because I sure didn’t think so. I mean, sometimes when people believe in you, you can live up to their expectations. But I always ask him, “Why did you pick me? Why ever did you pick me?” Because, as I could see it, I didn’t have anything outstanding that would make somebody say, “Oh boy, she is going to be a leader.” We never quite got accustomed to that one, being the leaders. But of course the responsibilities we had – if anyone had told any of us in the very beginning what we would be capable of doing, we never would’ve believed it. We never, ever, ever would’ve believed it.
In Our Movement: Union Members in Atlantic City Support Each Other after Hurricane Sandy December 11, 2012Posted by Local 34 in Uncategorized.
Members of our union in Atlantic City are still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many homes were destroyed and members were out of work for days. After the storm, UNITE HERE Local 54 quickly opened up a relief center to provide assistance with food, housing, clothes, and unemployment benefits for union members and others in the area affected by the storm.
Press of Atlantic City reported about the day the center opened: “The union put the word out to its members and expected a soft opening at 10 a.m….. When they arrived at 8 a.m., a line of people had been waiting for two hours. Organizers expected more than 1,000 people to receive assistance [that day].” In addition to union staff, dozens of members volunteered to work at the center connecting people to needed resources and offering translation services. The union served approximately 3,000 people in just five days, refusing to turn anyone away.
Local 54 organizer Adam Patten (formerly of Local 34 in the Medical School) reflected about working in the center: “I was really proud of being part of the union. It was definitely a crisis moment and people were really scared. It was very clear that people felt very good about having somewhere to turn and people they really trusted to help them.” Local 54 members are grateful for the support of their union and for the contributions of members across the country.