Yale announced last month that it will hire 1,000 additional New Haven residents over the next three years in a commitment that city officials have described as ambitious but unspecific.
Yale unveiled the jobs plan on Dec. 18, one week after closed-door negotiations with union leaders from Locals 34 and 35 culminated in an on-campus labor demonstration that brought together students and city residents to protest an ongoing jobs crisis in the city. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, the unemployment rate in New Haven is 9 percent, compared with 5 percent nationally. The plan commits the University to hiring from New Haven’s poorest neighborhoods, such as Dwight, Newhallville, Dixwell and Fair Haven. The University has agreed to make the hires through a jobs pipeline program called New Haven Works, which places qualified city residents in local jobs.
City officials interviewed said they were pleased by Yale’s commitment, but noted that Yale has offered little detail about what these jobs will be.
Still, Dwight Alder Frank Douglass welcomed the pledge, urging the city to be patient with the University in solving the jobs crisis.
“We’ve got to give [Yale] time to work on the logistics of it,” Douglass said. “I think we need to come together and work things out. We are partners in this.”
Douglass said he plans to meet with Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs to flesh out the details of the plan. He added that he assumes the jobs will be entry-level, and he said he hopes the new jobs are permanent.
University spokesman Tom Conroy said Yale has no specific timeline for hiring. Some of the jobs will be construction positions for work on campus buildings and others will include clerical, technical, service and maintenance positions. New positions may also be created in the Yale Police Department, Conroy added.
“This is an extension and an enhancement of the existing commitment announced last summer by Yale,” Conroy said. In August, the University promised to hire 500 additional New Haven residents over a two-year period.
Union leaders said this commitment is a significant shift in Yale’s commitment to its home city. Currently around one-third of Yale’s 13,000 employees are New Haven residents, but many leaders in City Hall have called on Yale to increase the number of local hires, claiming that the University has not sufficiently supported the Elm City. At the December labor demonstration, Rev. Scott Marks, co-founder of the grassroots labor group New Haven Rising, said he thinks Yale is moving in a positive direction.
While the August commitment specified that some of the jobs would come with the construction of the two new residential colleges, the more recent commitment does not specify whether the 1,000 hires would be in Yale’s dining services, cleaning and maintenance staff or in other administrative departments.
Hill Alder Dolores Colon ’91 said she hopes the commitment demonstrates to Yale that New Haven residents are qualified and hardworking employees. The crisis of jobs in the city is especially pernicious among the city’s youth, many of whom cannot find work in New Haven when they graduate from college, she said. Black and Hispanic communities in the city also have higher unemployment, Colon added.
Colon also said she had not seen any documents from Yale specifying what sort of jobs would be given to city residents, but like Douglass, she expressed support for the University’s renewed commitment.
“I’m just glad that they’re willing to hire people from our communities,” Colon added.
While union leaders were upset that Yale’s August hiring commitment did not specify from which neighborhoods Yale would hire, many praised the December commitment, which promises to reserve 500 jobs for the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods.
However, union leaders said solving the city’s unemployment crisis is not only on the shoulders of the University, but also on New Haven’s second-largest employer: Yale-New Haven Hospital. At the December protest, the hospital came under fire for its apparent lack of action. Over 100 graduate students, union members and city residents were arrested in an act of civil disobedience in the street outside the hospital.
Marks said in an email to the News that Yale-New Haven Hospital should “do its part to solve the crisis as well.”
Local 35 President Bob Proto said that Yale is leading by example, and he is hopeful that other New Haven employers will step up to the plate.
Twenty-five percent of New Haven residents live below the federal poverty line.
Michelle Liu contributed reporting.