NEW HAVEN Jenny Carrillo took leave of academia and her two daughters briefly to tend to a pressing matter. She wanted to get arrested.
Wednesday evening, the Yale University graduate student joined more than 100 women to get locked up in protest of what they describe as Yale Universitys poor treatment of women who have families.
"Yale has a responsibility to the community which it consistently fails to meet," she said.
Hundreds of students and union members marched downtown to pressure Yale to provide affordable health care for families of employees and graduate students. They also hoped to highlight other womens issues they maintain Yale ignores.
They (Yale) say that labor issues have nothing to do with education.
They say they teach math here but they cant seem to figure out that $10 an hour is not enough to live on.
Currently, graduate students get free health care coverage but have to pay about $3,000 per year for their families. Carrillo couldnt afford it, but she qualified for HUSKY, the state program that provides health care for children whose parents couldnt otherwise afford it.
Union organizers say its even harder for Yale workers, including non-union workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who might make just more than $10 per hour, to afford health insurance.
"They (Yale) say that labor issues have nothing to do with education," said Barbara Ehrenreich, an author and social activist who came to New Haven to get arrested. "They say they teach math here but they cant seem to figure out that $10 an hour is not enough to live on."
Then she ushered the volunteer arrestees.
"Join us, if youre the right gender, in being arrested."
The march was part of a nationwide pro-union effort organized by the AFL-CIO. Marches were planned across the country.
In New Haven, the slogan was "A womans place is in her union."
So when it came time to be arrested, it was a womens-only event. The women filed onto Elm Street and formed a circle, ignored a scripted warning by police, then waited to be handcuffed.
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said most graduate students receive stipends of at least $16,000 a year, free tuition and free health care. The benefits, he said, rival those offered at any other institution.
Some graduate students are trying to unionize, and organizers also are trying to unionize 1,800 employees at YNHH.
The universitys two biggest unions walked out of work for 23 days this summer before reaching an agreement.
During that work stoppage, more than 300 people were arrested in orchestrated acts of civil disobedience. Most of the cases have been thrown out in court, including charges against the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The demonstrations have been well scripted and union officials work with police in advance to avoid any confusion.
New Haven police Capt. Stephen Verrelli said the department assigned seven female officers to the arrest detail to expedite searches and processing.
The unofficial tally of arrestees was 103, he said.
The department has become well-versed in mass arrests.
"We plan our work and we work our plan," Verrelli said.
©New Haven Register 2003