The hundreds of Yale union workers who are on strike will each receive $100 more in picket pay per week, in addition to the $150 they currently receive, union leaders said Tuesday.
Members of locals 34 and 35, who began a walkout of indefinite length on Aug. 27, have been receiving $150 in compensation since the beginning of the strike. The increase in pay will be financed by donations from local churches, labor organizations, professional staff and managers, faculty members and students, Local 35 President Bob Proto said.
“The union is doing everything to make sure that we don’t let people get in trouble or behind with their bills,” Proto said.
Proto said 2 to 3 percent of Local 35 — which represents about 1,100 service and maintenance workers — has been coming to work, while 40 percent of Local 34′s 3,000 clerical and technical workers are not striking. He said union leaders have written close to 1,000 checks to Local 35 members and a large number of checks to Local 34 members in the last two weeks.
“The amount of people that qualified for picket pay was really high, probably higher than it’s ever been,” he said.
But Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said 66 percent of Local 34 and 9 percent of Local 35 has been coming to work for the last few days.
Klasky declined to comment about the increase in picket pay.
Undergraduate Organizing Committee spokesman Josh Eidelson ’06 said many students are contributing to the strike fund by donating portions of the meal reimbursement checks they have been receiving from Yale.
“Students are pooling money from their rebate checks and likely will be donating at some point next week,” Eidelson said.
During the walkout, striking workers have not been cleaning bathrooms, working in dining halls, or entering Yale buildings. Union members have also picketed almost daily and rallied with high-profile politicians and other community leaders.
Unionized workers from all over the Northeast will rally on the New Haven Green Saturday at noon to support the striking members of locals 34 and 35. Proto said he was disappointed the unions have had to resort to such public action.
“I don’t think a place like Yale should be drawing national attention on this issue,” he said. “They should be drawing national attention on their mission, and their mission shouldn’t be to hurt workers.”
Meanwhile, Yale and union negotiators will continue working toward final contracts when they meet with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. today.
The University and locals 34 and 35 have been negotiating new contracts since February 2002. The two sides have held a few bargaining sessions since the strike began but have not made significant progress on wages, pensions or other noneconomic issues.