University, police union negotiating contract

Four years after major contract disputes left Yale police officers considering a strike and staging job actions, the University and the Yale Police Benevolent Association are again working on new contracts, this time hoping to settle the matter more quickly and quietly.

Contracts for the police union expired June 30, but union and University leaders have agreed to extend them on a month by month basis since then.

University negotiators said they are hoping to avoid a prolonged contract dispute; in the last cycle of negotiations, which began in 1996, Yale and the police union took two and a half years to reach an agreement.

The police union, which was founded in 1988, represents about 55 officers and is not affiliated with any of the other unions on campus.

Yale Director of Labor Relations Brian Tunney said that there are many issues to discuss but that talks are progressing. Negotiators are using a new strategy called interest-based bargaining and working with a consultant from Restructuring Associates, Inc., the same labor-management consulting firm hired for negotiations between Yale and locals 34 and 35.

James Juhas, the University’s chief negotiator for the police union negotiations, said the process had been slow, in part because of the difficulty in scheduling negotiations, particularly given the complex schedules for police during events such as freshman move-in and Sept. 11, when police have more duties.

Benevolent association President Carlos Perez did not return repeated phone calls over the last two weeks.

“The union has expressed to us that they share our interest in getting this done expediently, as opposed to two and a half years,” Juhas said.

Negotiators will return to the bargaining table next week to continue talks.

Juhas said pensions will be a major issue but have yet to be addressed. He added that the two sides had made progress on some language issues and the union had made an expansive list of proposals.

“We’ve probably accomplished much more in this amount of time than we did over a much longer period in 1996 negotiations,” Juhas said.

During that round of talks, negotiations lasted more than two years, and officers did not receive new contracts until 1998. The union did not go on strike, but did hold several job actions.

In one, officers staged a blue flu: Officers on duty that day called in sick. On another day, officers staged a ticket blitz, in which they gave out over $4,000 worth of traffic tickets around campus in one day.

Comments