Residents seek justice from Yale-New Haven Hospital

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The wheels of justice are turning here.

Large numbers of community and labor activists, clergy and elected officials are expected to march on Yale-New Haven Hospital Dec. 13 to mark the first anniversary of Community Organized for Responsible Development (CORD). The action will take place during the week of International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10.

CORD is supporting the right for workers at the hospital to unionize and the right for the neighborhood surrounding the hospital to have a seat at the table through a community benefit agreement as plans for a new cancer center unfold.

Area clergy have been in the lead of organizing for these rights. At a press conference in front of Yale-New Haven Hospital on Nov. 14, the Rev. Henry Morris of Trinity Lutheran Church, Milford, said, “We stand united as a voice for the poor and powerless among us. We commit ourselves to speak out and act for justice in our city, in our communities, in our time.”

The delegation listed a number of concerns in their statement titled “Let My People Go,” including the hospital’s debt collection practices, the need for more training for hospital workers, stopping the intimidation of workers who want to form a union and traffic problems in the Hill neighborhood, which surrounds the hospital’s sprawling research centers and parking lots.

The Rev. Jose Champagne, president of the Spanish Clergy Association, called on the community to unite “to defend the interests of those who are dispossessed, those who have no voice before an institution with an attitude as Pharaoh-like as Yale-New Haven Hospital’s.”

After the press conference, the delegation marched to the building where the office of the hospital’s president, Marna Borgstrom, is located. As the clergy entered the building, the hospital security chief ran across the street to intervene. There was no stopping the clergy. They came too far to be turned around. A petition signed by over 100 area clergy was presented to hospital spokesperson Vincent Petrini.

Once the meeting was over, Morris addressed everyone outside. Borgstrom was nowhere to be found, he said, adding that the clergy will not stop until they get an appointment with her. Morris further stated, “The hospital is a place of healing. Now, they must heal the relationship in the Hill and open up the negotiation process with the residents in the Hill.”

“We cannot remain silent in the face of injustices,” he said. “We have risen to defend those who cannot defend themselves. We are not against the new cancer center.”