At a folk music benefit concert on the New Haven Green Tuesday night, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee raised nearly $1,000 for Yale’s striking workers, UOC organizers said.
The benefit concert, sponsored by the UOC, featured Yale folk singing group Tangled Up In Blue and political folk singer David Rovics. Event organizer Thomas Frampton ’06 said he was pleased with the turnout at the concert, which attracted about 75 students and New Haven residents. The funds raised will help striking workers in locals 34 and 35 pay monthly rental and utilities bills, he said. Currently, the strikers are receiving $250 a week in picket pay from the unions.
Aptly singing, “There was no one flipping burgers, all the grills were cold — the minimum wage workers went on strike,” Rovics opened his act with his rendition of “Minimum Wage Strike.” A popular political folk singer who has shared the stage with the Indigo Girls and Pete Seeger, Rovics made the original suggestion to hold a benefit concert and volunteered to perform at no charge.
Rovics performed with singer Allie Rosenblatt, attracting many middle-aged city residents.
“I’m very supportive of the unions and I’m also a fan of Dave Rovics,” said New Haven resident Sally Joughlin, 65. “I’m not surprised that he would be here supporting the unions with his songs.”
Tangled Up In Blue performed a traditional folksy set that included Bob Dylan favorite “House of the Rising Sun.” Group leader Bobby Gravitz ’04 said while there was an internal debate about singing at a pro-union fundraiser, the group eventually decided to perform for the workers.
“We came to a conclusion that we were okay to do it if we felt as if we were benefitting the individuals, the workers, and that we’re not here to support any political cause and the unions,” Gravitz said.
The group performed amid a couple of blackouts as generated light underneath the union’s “Freedom Tent” went out during the performance.
“It’s quite exciting singing in the dark,” singer Suzannah Holsenbeck ’05 said.
School of Forestry & Environmental Studies senior administrative assistant Eleanor Migliore, 48, a striking worker, said she was proud of the picketing workers and explained local 34’s position when she spoke to the crowd between sets.
“I love music and especially folk music,” she said. “I just wanted to state our case to the folks who have come out.”
While many students and city residents were at the concert, very few striking workers were in attendance. When asked to explain why her colleagues did not attend, Migliore said they are spending long, sometimes 12-hour days on the picket lines. She then called on Yale professors and administrators to show their support for the strikers.
“We’re on the picket lines every day — many of our workers are exhausted,” Migliore said. “Our picketers are on the sidewalks every day. They’ve got swollen feet and serious life difficulties to deal with. I say, where are some of our administrators, where are our professors, where are our staffs.”
Daniel Sussman ’07 said he attended the concert mostly to hear the music, not to make a political statement. But he said he hopes for a quick resolution so students can begin to eat in the dining halls again.
“Peace and quiet on campus would be really nice,” Sussman said. “I’ve stayed relatively distant because of some advice I received from some seniors I’ve talked to. They’ve had trouble getting clear info [from the University and the unions.]”