More than a thousand workers at Yale University marched to the steps of the Yale School of Medicine for a rally calling on their employer to protect their jobs.
“This is not just an attack on us, it’s an attack on working class people everywhere,” said Barbara Vereen, a lead organizer for UNITE Here Local 34, which represents clerical and technical workers.
Members of UNITE HERE Local 35, which represents service and maintenance workers, and other Yale unions joined in on the march down College Street through downtown New Haven.
“We want them to protect our jobs,” Vereen said, “we are looking for job security.”
The Local 34 union fears through budget cuts and attrition, employees could face rounds of layoffs, only to be replaced by Yale-New Haven Hospital workers who do not have a union.
“Our benefits are better and our pay is better because we have a union,” Vereen said. “There’s always that constant threat for us about whether are jobs are going to be shifted to the hospital because of the university’s relationship to the hospital.”
A $160 million state funding reduction to Yale-New Haven Hospital forced an $18 million reduction in funding for the School of Medicine, particularly the clinical departments and Yale Medical Group, Yale spokesperson Thomas Conroy said in an email to NBC Connecticut that
“We want to emphasize that the current anticipated layoffs at Yale School of Medicine are not related to moving work to the hospital,” Conroy said. “They are the direct result of funding cuts to the School of Medicine created by the State’s cuts to Yale-New Haven Hospital.”
Two Department of Dermatology employees were laid off Thursday, Vereen said. At the start of the rally, the Local 34 president Laurie Kennington said there could be 100 layoffs coming across the different clinical departments.
The union argues these job cuts come at a time when the university ran a budget surplus and has a record high endowment of $25.6 billion.
“This significant reduction in revenue will require Yale School of Medicine to make significant cost reductions, and the school will work tirelessly to minimize the impact on the faculty and staff,” Conroy said. “Given that the largest part of Yale’s budget is compensation for staff, there will necessarily be some staff reductions.”