The drive to organize 2,000 workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital moved into high gear this year when the hospital signed a landmark community benefits agreement. In addition to addressing community concerns about jobs, housing, education and traffic, the agreement restricts management’s use of the most extreme anti-union tactics. SEIU 1199 is now collecting authorization cards for a union election. Ray Milici has been a rank-and-file union leader at the hospital for over 40 years. He works in Dietary — the only department that currently has a union contract.
Management has been holding birthday parties all over the hospital. They’ve improved pensions. They’re even raising wages. For the most part, people realize that this is all because of the union drive.
In the last 18 months, workers at the hospital received over $2 an hour in raises. We went to see a manager after one of the raises. Some of the union women go to the same church as the manager. They told him, “You’re a deacon in the church, don’t lie to us.” We made him admit that the hospital raised wages because of the union drive.
Just because we have a community benefits agreement, it’s not like harassment has stopped. They find ways to get around the agreement. We’re involved in a real war.
Nobody expected this to be a pushover. We’re dealing with it.
There’s no doubt in my mind we will be victorious. More workers every day understand the hospital’s real intention to deceive the workers and deny them union rights and human rights.
— Ray Milici