NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hundreds of people gathered on the streets of New Haven Saturday morning to call for good jobs. They are waiting in frustration for Yale University to validate their union. They were also there to celebrate the opening of a new community center.
Yale employees and their supporters rallied and marched because they want to negotiate with the university on issues like equal pay and health care.
Many of the marchers were Yale University graduate teachers. They want contracts for their union, Local 33-UNITE HERE. They voted to join earlier this year.
“I’m a resident of New Haven and a graduate teacher at Yale,” said Lena Eckert-Erdheim. “I want to fight for my union and fight for strong institutions in the city that I live in.”
Graduate teachers say they want Yale to recognize the results of that election, and to come to the negotiating table.
The march ended at the groundbreaking for the Q-House, a new community center.
“Young people need to have safe places to play, but their parents need to have good jobs so they can pay,” said Rev. Scott Marks, who attended the event.
Graduate teachers supported the opening of the new community center. They had the support of the community, including from members of the organization New Haven Rising. They came together to celebrate the new Q-House.
“This is a great day,” said Marks. “The Q-House has another chance. It helped save my life. It can do it for many others.”
However, marchers were also focused on change. They were hoping to come together, and to get the university’s attention.
“It was really great to have such amazing turnout from the community, and really for us to be able to turn out for the community too,” said Eckert-Erdheim.
Yale University gave us a statement which said,
“Last January, Yale and its two largest unions, Local 34 and 35 of UNITE HERE, reached agreement on five-year labor contracts. It was the third time in a row that agreement was reached on contracts without conflict or strikes. There hasn’t been a worker strike at Yale since 2003. That’s a great record of cooperation for which UNITE HERE and Yale should be proud. We are currently in contract negotiations with the union representing our police officers. The compensation and support Yale gives its officers is highly competitive with other police departments in Connecticut, which is why Yale is able to attract and retain superb officers. The officers are working under an excellent contract and we hope to conclude bargaining and reach a new agreement soon.”
Graduate teachers say they’ll keep fighting for the university to recognize their unionization.