To the Editor:

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the naivete of Aaron Mitchell’s letter of 2/13 (“The unions? They can look for sympathy elsewhere”). He comes off as an Ebeneezer Scrooge type figure as if there is some value in people living “hand to mouth.” It would be interesting to ask his Appalachian-born coworkers if they were quite as content as he makes them out to be living frugally and working two or three jobs; or if his father might be as content sweeping floors than being the doctor that he is. His letter implies a comfortable upbringing that might or might not be true. It screams arrogance and elitism.

Unions generally exist in business and industry because there is a need. Not every employer has a living wage or beneficial working conditions as a top or even medium priority. If Mitchell had bothered to do a little investigation he might have discovered that 20 years ago, Yale employees were not always treated well or fairly, or had anywhere near the array of benefits they presently do today. Yale, while being an enlightened institution of academic learning, has not always been an enlightened employer. The employees of Yale are a valuable and integral part of a smoothly functioning institution, and should be recognized as such, Mitchell’s opinion notwithstanding. Perhaps when Mitchell gets a little older, he’ll be able to appreciate that a great university has a responsibility to treat its employees as a great university should, paying them a living wage and providing appropriate benefits so that families do not have to live “hand to mouth” or work two to three jobs.

Marlene P. Feldman

February 14, 2003

The writer is a senior administrative assistant and a member of Local 34.