- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson and 13 other persons were arrested yesterday after they blocked traffic on the Yale University campus in support of striking university service and clerical workers.

Mr. Jackson led more than 1,000 people on a Labor Day march and rally in support of the striking workers before he was arrested.

“This is the site of national Labor Day outrage,” Mr. Jackson said. “This is going to be for economic justice what Selma was for the right to vote.”

The march ended in a rally at Yale’s Beinecke Plaza and Woodbridge Hall, which houses university President Richard Levin’s office. Police said 1,000 to 1,500 people marched with Mr. Jackson, including Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a Yale graduate, and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Yale Law School graduate.

Mr. Jackson and about 30 others then blocked traffic. To the cheers of protesters, Mr. Jackson was the first to be handcuffed. The demonstrators were expected to be charged with disorderly conduct.

In Detroit, union members and supporters faced the rainy weather to march downtown to celebrate Labor Day and call attention to the challenges faced by U.S. workers in a struggling economy.

The parade ended at the recently unveiled Michigan Labor Legacy monument in Hart Plaza, which symbolizes the continuing spirit of organized labor and the importance of unions to the region’s history.

“We’re very concerned about this economy,” said Patrick Devlin, secretary-treasurer of the Greater Detroit Building and Construction Trades Council. “People talk about the economy picking up, but we don’t see it.”

At Yale, the service and clerical workers from two Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International locals walked off the job Wednesday in a dispute over wages, job security and pension benefits.

The unions represent about 4,000 clerical, technical and service and maintenance workers, but an undetermined number had crossed picket lines.

University negotiators and leaders of striking unions agreed to return to the negotiations tomorrow.

Yale officials say their latest eight-year contract offer is generous, with pay raises of 3 percent to 5 percent, pension benefit increases and signing bonuses worth 50 percent of pay raises they would have received dating back to January 2002, when the last contract expired.

The unions want more substantial raises and larger pension benefits, as well as retroactive pay for the 20 months workers stayed on the job without contracts.

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