Dear President Salovey,
We are very glad you made the decision to wind down campus operations in this unprecedented situation. We know the impact to ongoing teaching and research is severe, but it is a relief that we at Yale can be part of the solution to flatten the curve.
Our members have been busy finding ways to continue their work from home. They are very invested in the missions of their departments, especially in a moment like this. We are grateful that Yale recognizes their dedication and has committed to keeping staff members whole in this crisis.
Of course, many of our members perform critical functions and are still reporting to work. Most departments have taken a surgical approach, evaluating who really needs to be here and creating skeletal crews that can rotate. We appreciate that management is working with us to allow social distancing in the workplace.
We are proud that, as workers, our members are staffing the testing facility and the Lanman Center. We are appreciative that, as patients, we have access to excellent care. Yale Health had enough foresight to prepare—and has been remarkably thoughtful throughout.
But we have deep concerns about safety. The most urgent issue, as we’re sure you’ll agree, is the terrifying shortage of supplies. Many of our front-line patient care workers in the Medical School do not have N95 masks. Local 35 crews, vital now more than ever, have been barred access to sanitizing supplies. Our members are ready to do this difficult work, but as union leaders, we can’t allow people to put their lives at risk. We feel this urgency especially with the opening of the Lanman Center. We have asked the Policy Board, and are asking for your support, to work with us at the State and Federal level to push for protective equipment and supplies as soon as possible. This is important not just for Yale but for all the healthcare workers and first responders around us.
But there are still non-essential buildings open and operational at Yale. Every optional staff member on campus puts her or his life and the lives of many others at risk in the dramatically escalating public safety emergency. The number of Connecticut cases increased by almost 50% in the last day. The State is shutting down.
The University’s current operational plan for staff only continues until March 31st.
For these reasons, we again urge you to fully close campus immediately and to reevaluate the situation in four weeks.
Respectfully yours, Bob Proto and Laurie Kennington
We plan to send another update in the coming day. In Solidarity, Laurie Kennington, President Local 34–UNITE HERE! Ken Suzuki, Secretary–Treasurer Local 34–UNITE HERE!