This article was originally published by the Yale Daily News, the oldest college daily in the United States.
More than a thousand students, labor union members and community activists flooded Yale’s campus and downtown New Haven in a call for the University and the city to provide more youth opportunities and union jobs.
The “Let’s Get to Work” march and rally was jointly organized by the undergraduate community advocacy group Students Unite Now, the Local 34 and Local 35 unions that represent University technical, clerical and dining hall employees, the Graduate Employees Student Organization (GESO) and the non-profit progressive advocacy group Connecticut Center for a New Economy. While the organizations leading the march identified different goals, leaders from each group said protesting together provides a “show of force” to Yale administrators and city officials that youth employment and union jobs are important issues for New Haven residents.
“I’m marching today because there is a movement building across the city for economic and social justice,” said Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson ’12 in a speech at the march. “We can only make the change if thousands of us take to the streets — it’s about all of us fighting for change.”
Organizers said yesterday’s march was designed to be this year’s equivalent of last March’s “We Are One” rally, in which students, labor unions, clergy and other activists marched on City Hall in protest of Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s demands that city employees make significant concessions on their benefits to help balance the city budget. Local 34 and 35 members interviewed said this year’s protest comes at a key time, as the Yale unions are currently in negotiations with the University over the terms of future union contracts. Leaders of the unions could not be reached for comment.
Members of GESO, Local 34 and 35 as well as Students Unite Now gathered at separate locations at approximately 5 p.m. Undergraduates convened outside Dwight Hall, where members of Students Unite Now distributed signs and delivered speeches about the importance of Yalies’ advocating for city youth and employment issues to a crowd of around 120 students by 5:30 p.m.
Following the speeches, the Students Unite Now group marched down High Street and through Cross Campus before merging with GESO and Local 34 and 35 members at the United Methodist Church on the corner of College and Elm Streets. The group shouted chants including “Together we stand, divided we fall,” “We’re coming together to make it all better” and “Jobs for youth, jobs for all.”