Unions make new offer in negotiations



Union negotiators reduced their positions on wages and pensions and dropped or modified 25 contract proposals during negotiations Wednesday, but University leaders said the unions’ new offer is still financially unrealistic.

Two days after Yale put forth a new 10-year contract offer, the unions made a new proposal outlining four-year contracts. Locals 34 and 35, also called for Yale President Richard Levin to come to the bargaining table and for the two sides to bring back labor-management consultant John Stepp of the Washington, D.C.-based firm Restructuring Associates Inc.

The union offer reduced the pension multiplier from 2.35 percent to 2.1 percent. The proposal also reduced its salary proposal for the 2,800 members of Local 34, Yale’s clerical and technical union, to 4 percent in the contract’s first year, 7.5 percent in the second year and 8.5 percent in the third and fourth years. Union leaders reduced wages for Local 35 — which represents 1,100 service and maintenance workers — to 3 percent in the first year with retroactivity, 5 percent in the second and third years and 5.5 percent in the fourth year.

Union leaders maintained that they want four-year contracts because a longer 10-year contract would give University leaders an opportunity to avoid dealing with the unions.

Local 34 President Laura Smith said the proposal that University negotiators presented on Monday was “cynical” since they did not make any significant changes in their economic offers.

“Certainly our offer is a much more significant movement than what Yale made on Monday,” Smith said.

But Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the unions’ proposals are still economically unrealistic.

“We wished they would have moved more significantly in response to our significant offer on Monday,” he said.

Conroy said sending Levin to the bargaining table or bringing back Stepp — who facilitated the first three months of bargaining before the two sides moved on to economic issues last June — will not advance negotiations.

“We certainly don’t believe that the solution lies in having other parties in the bargaining,” he said.

Yale and locals 34 and 35 have been negotiating new contracts for union members since last February. The two sides have clashed at the bargaining table in recent months, and union members held a weeklong walkout during the first week of March.

The University’s Monday proposal increased wages by 4.5 percent for Local 34 and by 3.25 percent for Local 35 during the second year of the 10-year contract. The contract would raise wages 4 percent for Local 34 and 3 percent for Local 35 every year through the remaining nine years.

Smith said Yale negotiators responded at the end of Wednesday’s session that they would not be presenting new economic offers at the two sides’ next meeting on Tuesday. She said she does not believe that University leaders have upheld their promise of improving long-term relations between the two sides.

“If in fact, we’re working toward the partnership President Levin has talked about, we need to see some evidence of that at the bargaining table,” Smith said.

Negotiators have scheduled three more bargaining sessions for next week. The two sides will hold their next meeting on Tuesday.

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