This is serious, and I hope you read it to the end. Our sisters and brothers in Local 217–UNITE HERE need our help. I’m donating $600 of my coronavirus stimulus check to Local 217 hospitality workers and I urge you to do the same.
The support we got from Local 217, dating all the way back to 1980, was critical to the success of our union, Local 34. Today, Local 217 needs us. Many of their workplaces are closed and more than two-thirds of them have been laid off. Some have lost health insurance when they need it most, and many more face losing coverage in the coming weeks and months.
Local 217 supported us from the beginning. They played a huge role in helping us get the great contracts we’ve won. The same contracts that have allowed us to continue to work and get paid during this national crisis, as essential employees on campus or as non-essential employees working from home. I am donating because we came from Local 217. They are a part of us, we cannot stand by while they are in need.
Organizing Local 34 was a daunting task. We were a group of clerical and technical workers up against a formidable opponent, Yale University, one of the most powerful & wealthy institutions in the world. We needed a large group of skilled organizers with experience & vision to help us build Local 34. And so, here’s the thing you may or may not know—in the beginning most of the Local 34 staff organizers were Local 217 paid staff organizers on loan to us from Local 217. Their dues money (as well as dues money from Local 35 and funds from our International Union UNITE HERE) paid for our original staff organizers and the extensive campaign we needed to mount in order to succeed.
And succeed we did. We could not have won our many victories throughout the years without them. The donation of many Local 217 organizers was a crucial step. They strategized for us. They trained us. They shared their organizing skills and negotiating experience with us. They helped us build the large Organizing Committee that was necessary to win both our union election in 1983 and our first contract back in 1985. I guess what I’m saying is Local 217 is family.
One more time, I need you to donate now, click here. Below I’m sharing some text from Local 217 leadership, and a couple stories from workers underlining just how important this is.
Aldo Cupo, Executive Board, Local 34–UNITE HERE!
With over 90% of hospitality workers unemployed, Congress appropriated billions in emergency aid for hotels and casinos to protect the hospitality industry workforce.
Now, the hotels want to use that money to pay their banks instead of workers.
They want federal aid with fewer strings attached.
UNITE HERE Hospitality Workers Union
Dear Local 34 members,
We write to share the email Local 34 & Local 35 sent moments ago to Yale President Peter Salovey. Please read it in its entirety here:
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.
Bob Proto and Laurie Kennington
We plan to send another update in the coming day.
Laurie Kennington, President Local 34–UNITE HERE!
Ken Suzuki, Secretary–Treasurer Local 34–UNITE HERE!