‘Don’t Ever Write Anybody Off, Because I Changed’

Corey Robin’s memories of Lucille Dickess, a registrar at Yale who became president of the local union in the eighties, are really beautiful: “I can still remember the first time I saw and heard Lucille speak. It was at a rally on Beinecke Plaza, I think in the spring of 1991. She had white hair, looked like a suburban grandmother, and breathed fire. I had always thought of union workers as burly white guys. I never thought that again.”

The New Haven Independent also has excerpts from an interview with Dickess about how she came to be involved in the union—super interesting is that she had once crossed picket lines (“scabbed”) to work in the dining hall!

“Right after I became president of Local 34, I was invited to a Local 35 membership meeting so people would get to meet me. I told them that I had scabbed … I just wanted them to know: don’t ever write anybody off, because I changed. I came all that way from non-thinking, not knowing, and I learned, and so here’s where I am now. So a lot of people were not too thrilled to hear me say this, but afterwards Tom Gaudioso said to me, ‘I’ve got to give it to you: you had a lot of balls to say that to them.'”

The Yale unions continue to be powerful forces of change in New Haven. Last week labor journalist Josh Eidelson explained how his early career in activism started at Yale.



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