Amidst widespread threats of layoffs, nearly 2,000 workers at Yale University took to the street in a mass action Thursday calling on Yale to protect their jobs.
“We are under attack,” said Local 34 UNITE HERE Chief Steward Barbara Vereen, “Yale wants to take our jobs and make them non-union. We are not going to let that happen.”
The demonstration was held outside of the Yale School of Medicine, where close to 1,000 workers in clinical positions are facing threats to their jobs as Yale-New Haven Hospital expands. Throughout Yale’s campus, clerical and technical workers in UNITE HERE Local 34 are facing cuts. Service and maintenance workers in UNITE HERE Local 35 are losing positions through attrition and containment of the growth of good jobs.
“The University has decided to contain the unionized workforce on campus and move in a direction away from good jobs,” said Local 35 UNITE HERE President Bob Proto. “If the Yale administration thinks they can continue down this path, they are sorely mistaken. We are drawing a line in the sand. This is our work, and we are going to protect it.”
Workers from across Yale’s campus spoke about the threats to their jobs. “My lab is the best in the region, and the demand for our services has only been growing,” said Laura Fuller-Weston, a Clinical Technologist in the Pathology Department. “But Yale has started moving our work to non-union labs at Yale-New Haven Hospital. I’m the sole provider for eight members of my family—I can’t lose my job.”
Yale University’s Medical Services Income has nearly tripled in the past decade, from $277.1 million in 2005 to $786.5 million in 2015. But just a few days after the start of contract negotiations, the Yale administration began claiming the need for potential staff cuts in every clinical department at the School of Medicine. “For over two years, we have been pushing the University to protect our jobs from the Hospital and they have refused,” said Local 34 UNITE HERE President Laurie Kennington. “These layoffs are a brazen attempt to move our work, and we will not let it happen.”
“Our clinic gets more doctors and more patients all the time,” said Kimberly Mathis, a Medical Assistant at the Yale Physicians Building, “We all know we need more staff, not less.”
Yale’s cuts to good jobs on campus come in the context of record-breaking financial growth. The University ran a budget surplus of $154 million last year and the Yale endowment has reached an all-time high of $25.6 billion. While the University has grown, the Yale Administration has implemented widespread cuts to staff and services, with the threat of more on the way.
“There used to be a full telecommunications office dedicated to keeping Yale’s phones running—from doctor’s offices to blue security phones,” said Jo-Ann Dziuba, a Senior Telecommunications Specialist in the Information Technology Services Department. “After layoffs this spring there’s just me and one other person responsible for over 28,000 phones. When will Yale stop the cuts?”
Over 1,000 Workers March On Yale – New Haven Independent
Facing layoffs, clerical union confronts Yale – Yale Daily News
Union workers rail against Yale School of Medicine cuts – New Haven Register
Yale union workers rally against cuts – WTNH
Thousands protest Yale layoffs Thursday afternoon – WFSB
Yale Union Members Demand Job Security At Rally – NBC Connecticut