Yale negotiators will announce a modified pension proposal during negotiations with its two largest unions today, marking the third day of regular negotiations in more than three months.
Yale and its unions resumed negotiations for new contracts for nearly 4,000 workers Wednesday. The University’s pension proposal will be its first new offer since June. But in public statements leaders have said they remain far apart on many issues.
The University and its two recognized unions, locals 34 and 35, began discussions of issues such as parking and training for employees during the two full-table sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. The two sides held one bargaining session in December but had not met before that since early October.
The two sides have scheduled bargaining sessions through Jan. 23. Negotiations are now open to the public.
Locals 34 and 35 represent Yale’s clerical, technical, service and maintenance workers.
Negotiations between the University and its unions began in February. Contracts expired last January and have been renewed on a monthly basis since then. Workers have not received annual pay raises because contracts have not been settled.
Yale President Richard Levin sent a letter on Thursday to faculty, staff and students about the current state of negotiations.
“I profoundly wish that I could report better news, but the fall semester has produced little progress in the negotiations,” Levin said in the letter.
He said he believes the unions have focused their attention instead on efforts to organize workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital and members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization.
Local 35 President Bob Proto said he is disappointed that Levin communicated with the Yale and New Haven community through letters instead of coming to the bargaining table himself.
“I’m angry that he’s hiding behind letters,” Proto said. “I’m also angry that he thinks our members are naive enough to believe [these letters].”
Proto said he finds it “refreshing” that Yale’s negotiators are re-opening discussions on economic issues and that union leaders are still waiting to hear the University’s new pension proposal before deciding whether to renew contracts for the coming month. The deadline to extend contracts is Thursday.
The contracts contain “no strike, no lockout” clauses, which prohibit job actions while the contracts are in effect. If union leaders opt not to renew contracts, they would be able to hold a strike or other job actions after Feb. 1.
Proto said the unions continue to hold out hope that contracts can be settled peacefully.
“We remain committed to getting [contracts] done without a major disruption of the entire campus, though our people are getting fed up with Yale’s rhetoric and distortion of the truth,” Proto said.
Levin said he remains hopeful that the unions will “get serious” about settling contracts.
“We can only do our best to put reasonable ideas forward and hope they will respond,” he said.
Union members voted to authorize union leaders to call job actions, such as strikes, during votes Sept. 4. Despite rumors of a November strike, no actions were held. The unions have held actions during seven of the last ten negotiations. The two sides began negotiations this time hoping to change their contentious relationship but have said in recent months that they have become discouraged about building a partnership.