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News ::
BTL:Union Victory at Yale Has Broader Significance for Labor Movement (english)
27 Sep 2003
Interview with John Wilhelm, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus
Union Victory at Yale Has Broader Significance for Labor Movement

Interview with John Wilhelm, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union conducted by Melinda Tuhus

On Sept. 19, workers at Yale University overwhelmingly approved new contracts after a strike lasting more than three weeks. The 1,100 maintenance and dining hall workers, joined by almost 3,000 clerical and technical workers, won higher wages, better job security, another step on the advancement ladder, and perhaps most importantly - a substantial increase in pension pay.

The Yale unions, Locals 34 and 35, belong to HERE -- the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union -- whose president, John Wilhelm, a Yale graduate, began working for the union 35 years ago. He participated in negotiations at different points in the 19-month period after the last contract expired and the strike started on Aug. 27. But once it did start, he sat in on every meeting, going head to head with Yale president Rick Levin in talks mediated by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

The strike was settled on a Sept. 19. Three days later, Wilhelm appeared at a news conference outside Yale-New Haven Hospital with other labor leaders, elected officials, clergy and hospital workers. They were there to push for contracts for the 150 dietary workers who are members of Local 1199/SEIU and for a fair process to organize the other 1,700 service workers at the hospital. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Wilhelm about the unique aspects of the successful fight at Yale and the significance of this victory for the rest of the labor movement.

For more information on the labor struggle at Yale, call HERE at (203) 624-5161 or visit their website at

Related links

*"Despite End to Yale Strike, Hospital Workers' Issues Linger," by Stacey Lowe, The New York Times, Sept. 22, 2003

*"Yale Strike Over: Unions gain wage, pension increases in new 8-year pact," by Mary O'Leary, New Haven Register, Sept. 19, 2003

*"10,000 Yale strike supporters rally in New Haven City center shut down; 152 arrested," by Angela Carter, New Haven Register, Sept. 14, 2003

*"Jesse Jackson Supports Yale University Strikers; Makes Connections Between Labor and Civil Rights Struggles," Between The Lines Interview for the Week Ending 9/12/03

LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:
"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
betweenthelines (at)
Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
2003 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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