Members of Local 35, which represents Yale’s service and maintenance workers, reelected Chief Steward Meg Riccio to her fourth two-year term in a Halloween election.
Riccio defeated Joe Nelson, a steward in the medical school, by a margin of 402-179. While all of the top union offices, including president, vice president, sergeant of arms and executive board positions are up for election every two years, only Riccio faced a challenge this year.
Pleased with the election results, Riccio said her main focus was the upcoming contract renewal. The contract with Yale expires Jan. 20.
“I’m grateful that the election is over and that we can move forward with the contract,” Riccio said. “I knew a lot of people supported me, and I think that people came out and voted for who they thought could do the best job.”
Nelson was unavailable for comment Wednesday night. Several union members said they were not familiar with Nelson’s candidacy.
Local 35 President Bob Proto, who had taken the day off from work to campaign for Riccio and hand out “Vote for Meg” cards with Lifesavers stapled to the back, said he was ready to move on from the race.
“I’m happy with the results and I’m just glad everyone now can focus on improving our relations with Yale,” Proto said.
Wednesday’s election was the first for Local 35 leadership in four years. None of the positions were contested in 1999, and Riccio’s spot was the only one challenged in the election before that, in 1997.
That race drew a record turnout of 683 members, and Riccio won by a 70-vote margin.
Proto said he had not expected anyone to challenge Riccio this year.
“I was surprised that Joe was obviously not happy with the job Meg was doing,” Proto added. “If he was more involved, he would have noticed what a great job she is doing with the union.”
Union members who voted Wednesday said the upcoming contract renewal weighed heavily in their deciding process.
“Who is going to get in office is going to do what they need for the union, especially with the contract,” said Oneal Galloway, who works in the Calhoun College dining hall. “I’m not one of the veterans; I’ve only been here 10 years. Those guys have been here 30 years. But I want to make sure they keep the wheels spinning for me.”