Work on Hispanic labor issues continues



Nearly three months after the end of a strike featuring contentious debate over the status of Hispanic workers at Yale, both the University and its unions say they are committed to improving minority recruitment efforts.

The temporary hiring of Hispanic workers to replace striking workers during the three-week job action this fall was a major point of contention between the parties. Union supporters challenged the University to explain what they perceived as a low number of full-time Hispanic workers at Yale and why many of the replacements were from that ethnic group. Yale representatives said the University’s growth will likely provide opportunities to hire more Hispanic workers and that contractors — not Yale officials — were responsible for hiring the replacement workers.

“We’re always working to increase the number of Latinos,” Yale Interim Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said. “Any number is not sufficient when you can still do much better.”

A strike this fall by members of locals 34 and 35, which represent 4,000 University clerical, technical, service and maintenance workers, ended Sept. 18.

As part of the new union contracts with Yale, a job training committee including representatives of the University, its unions and the community will be created to train New Haven residents to qualify for entry-level positions.

Lindner said the University is engaging Latino groups in New Haven to educate them about gaining employment at Yale.

“We’ve had meetings — to hear the concerns, listen to the needs of the community and see how we can be responsive,” Lindner said.

Undergraduate Organizing Committee member Alek Felstiner ’04 said recruitment must be coupled with training current employees and offering minority employees opportunities for promotion. He said doing this would not only help the workers but would also illustrate the University’s commitment to social equality.

“The University needs to set a better example,” Felstiner said. “They’re teaching us, I believe, a negative lesson about stratified society.”

Local 35 President Bob Proto said some workers who were hired as replacements but refused to cross picket lines are having difficulty finding jobs at Yale because they do not have high school diplomas or general equivalency degrees.

“[But] they were obviously doing the work during the strike without the diploma,” Proto said.

Proto said he thought those workers should be “put in the pipeline” for jobs and then aided in meeting their educational requirements. He said the unions were talking with the University about ways to help the workers earn GEDs.

Lindner said she did not know of any workers employed by the outside contractor who want to continue to work at Yale.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who signed a letter condemning the hiring of the Hispanic replacements, said in an e-mail that she was pleased by the progress made in ending the strike. But DeLauro said there is still work to be done.

“I will be continuing to work with both the Local 34 and 35 unions and Yale to help facilitate a strong relationship between these communities built on mutual respect,” DeLauro said.

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