NEW HAVEN — With over 2,000 members voting, Local 34 UNITE HERE, the union of clerical and technical workers at Yale University, voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to increase union dues by an average of 14 cents per hour.
The vote was conducted by secret ballot election on an amendment to the union’s bylaws proposed by the Local 34 Executive Board. Union members had the opportunity to cast their ballots at any of nine membership meetings held throughout the day on Wednesday in six different locations across Yale’s campus. The bylaws amendment passed with 77% of the vote.
“When our union was founded in 1984, women made 59 cents on the dollar made by men. Now our jobs are the backbone of many households in this region. Increasing our dues was a serious decision to keep our jobs good jobs for us and all of the people we support,” said Local 34 President Laurie Kennington.
“My family depends on my wages and benefits,” said Elia Vollano, an Account Assistant in Patient Financial Services, “My daughter is about to go to college and my husband’s job is insecure and doesn’t provide healthcare. He’s been laid off before and could be again at any time.”
Members of Local 34 pay monthly union dues based on their hourly rate of pay. The new measure amended the union’s bylaws to change the formula for full-time employees’ monthly dues from 2.25 times the employee’s hourly rate of pay to three times the employee’s hourly rate of pay. For part-time employees, the bylaws were amended to change the formula from 1.8 times the employee’s hourly rate of pay to 2.4 times the employee’s hourly rate of pay.
One of the major reasons that many clerical and technical workers voted for the increase was that they were concerned that Yale-New Haven Hospital’s continued expansion would pose a threat to the 986 Local 34 members who work in clinical areas.
“I worked at the Yale Sleep Center for 15 years before I was laid off. I never thought my job would be in jeopardy. But at the end of 2013, our department was closed and eleven of us were laid off. Two weeks later Yale-New Haven Hospital announced they would open a sleep center. My job became a non-union Hospital job. I voted yes because I don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” said Gretchen Rose, now a Clinical Receptionist at Yale Health.
“Recently I’ve seen our Yale University department signs being replaced with Yale-New Haven Hospital signs. I voted for the increase because I need my job to stay union so I can be the breadwinner and support my child,” said Sierra Murphy, a Medical Assistant in the Cardiology Department.
On Wednesday evening following the dues vote, Local 34 held its triennial Nominations Meeting, at which the officers and the Executive Board of the union were reelected by the membership without contest.