Unions agree not to cancel contracts

Despite talk of an October strike, the contracts for 4,000 workers in locals 34 and 35 were automatically extended through Oct. 31 after the deadline to cancel the contracts this month passed Monday. Because the contracts contain “no strike, no lockout” clauses, job actions are prohibited while the contracts are in effect.

Yale officials said they had expected union leaders to announce Monday that they were not extending the contracts, but did not receive any notification. Local 34 President Laura Smith said union leaders chose not to cancel the contracts and hoped negotiations would be productive.

“At present we are looking to and hoping that we can in fact settle a contract,” Smith said. “If there comes a point at which we determine that we do in fact need to call for a strike, then we will make decisions at that time on how to deal with it.”

After the previous contracts expired in January, union and University leaders agreed to extend the old contracts until they reached a new settlement. The contracts are now automatically extended each month unless one side notifies the other 15 days before the start of the next month.

With major disputes occurring between the two sides and negotiations deteriorating, union leaders have planned a day of civil disobedience Sept. 25, and have indicated they are planning a three-day walkout in October.

With the contracts extended, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the University did not expect union members to violate the contract by holding a strike or other job actions.

Under the “no strike, no lockout” provisions, workers who participate in job actions can be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.

But the extended contracts still allow union members to participate in sympathy strikes of any other unions under the same employer.

Last month, unionized dietary workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital authorized their leaders to call a strike. The union, the Service Employees International Union District 1199, has been closely aligned with Yale’s unions, and both groups have argued that Yale controls the hospital.

Union leaders have emphasized Yale’s ties with the hospital in recent weeks, especially after hospital police arrested union workers for distributing leaflets outside the hospital. Union leaders said Yale President Richard Levin should be considered responsible for the arrests.

Yale administrators have long maintained that the two institutions are separate and that Levin has no control over hospital police.

Union leaders have said they are prepared to dispute that claim in court.

Levin sits on the hospital’s board and appoints eight of its 28 members. Union leaders have asked Levin to agree to recognize a union for about 1,800 non-unionized hospital workers, which Levin has said he does not have the power to do. Through a spokeswoman, Hospital CEO Joseph Zaccagnino has declined to comment on unionization.

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