Prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct charges against 41 union supporters Friday in New Haven Superior Court.
The state dismissed charges against 39 strike supporters and nolled charges against two union members for allegedly refusing police orders and blocking traffic on separate occasions during union demonstrations.
“Our position from the beginning was that these people were not guilty of any criminal offense,” the defendants’ attorney Hugh Keefe said. “They were essentially brave people acting to persuade the authorities at Yale, in the one way they could, to listen to them.”
If a case is dismissed, all records of the offense and the incident involved are erased immediately. In nolled cases, the state chooses not to proceed further at the time but may refile charges within 13 months.
Keefe, who is also a tutor in clinical studies at the Yale Law School, said he is representing 200 additional union supporters in cases to be heard Nov. 7, 13 and 14. About 90 percent of the defendants are union members, he said.
Keefe said he expects these other cases will be dismissed or nolled.
Members of Yale’s two largest unions, locals 34 and 35, held a three-week strike this fall that ended Sept. 18. During the walkout, workers held a number of rallies with prominent politicians and community leaders, blocking off areas of central campus in acts of civil disobedience.
Cases against the Rev. Jesse Jackson and 20 other ministers who participated in these actions will be heard Nov. 21, though the ministers will be represented by another attorney.
Yale President Richard Levin said he thought it was “a matter for the court and prosecutors to work out.”
Keefe said he moved for dismissal after the prosecutors in the cases nolled the charges. Prosecutors did not dismiss charges against two defendants, Donald Frigo and Mary Kilton, because they were charged in relation to two incidents, Keefe said.
Frigo, 52, a printing assistant with Yale’s Reprographics and Imaging Services, was one of Local 34’s negotiators during the strike. Frigo said he will work with his attorneys to get the charges dismissed but will perform community service or pay a fine if necessary.
“To me, it was something that had to be done, ” Frigo said.
Keefe said the next hearing on these two cases will take place in a few months.
Local 35 President Bob Proto said the defendants in these cases were “good people trying to raise awareness for our struggle.” He said the union was happy with the results and hopeful the other remaining cases would be dismissed.
“We think these folks that stood in the street to bring to light our struggle were courageous,” Proto said.
Local 35 announced the names of members of a committee that will investigate possible punishments for union members who did not participate in the strike Thursday. The committee will meet with the union’s attorneys and examine relevant labor law and Local 35’s bylaws.
Department Steward for Utility Philip Voigt, Local 35 business agent Frank Anderson and Department Steward for Dining Halls Mike Schoen will be the committee members, Proto said Sunday. Proto said he did not know when the committee would make a recommendation.
“We don’t want this fast-tracked,” Proto said. “We want this done properly.”
Voigt said Sunday that the committee had not yet met.