New contracts unlikely before summer



After more than 14 months of negotiations, union and University leaders said they are not optimistic about settling contracts by Commencement.

Yale and union leaders both said the progress of talks depends on the other side making the next move. Both parties have said they remain far apart on most major issues and have made little progress since the unions held a weeklong walkout early last month.

Union spokesman Bill Meyerson said he could not speculate as to when contracts may be settled.

“In all the major issues — wages, pensions, training — we have not made progress,” he said.

Meyerson said the two sides are no closer to settling contracts than they were before the strike.

“We’ve been meeting, and we’re certainly willing to meet,” he said. “But there’s not been any progress certainly since the strike.”

University spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said union leaders must decide to make contracts their priority in order to resolve the current dispute.

“We see no reason why employees can’t have new contracts,” she said. “There’s no reason that this can’t be concluded immediately.”

University leaders have said the unions’ focus on organizing graduate students and hospital workers has taken priority over contracts.

Yale and locals 34 and 35 have been negotiating new contracts for nearly 4,000 clerical, technical, service and maintenance workers since last February. Union members held a strike during the first week of March alongside some members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and unionized workers from Yale-New Haven Hospital. Because new contracts have not been settled, union members have not received annual raises since February 2001.

Yale and union negotiators met Tuesday and will meet again today. Meyerson said the two sides reviewed the language of outstanding issues but did not reach new agreements on any major issues. The University and unions did not negotiate last week.

Both sides, as well as some union supporters, have expressed frustration over the slow progress of contract negotiations.

Members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee constructed a “village” of wood replicas of Yale buildings on Beinecke Plaza Monday morning, asking Yale leaders to find a “better way” of negotiating union contracts. The “Better Way Village” — which will remain on Beinecke through tomorrow morning — has been the site of discussion panels and student demonstrations since Monday.

UOC members will hold a speakout at the village featuring undergraduates and union members at 12:30 p.m. today.

Yale and locals 34 and 35 have a tumultuous history of labor relations; the March strike was the eighth union job action in the last 11 rounds of negotiations. In 1996, during the last round of contract talks, the University and its unions engaged in a costly dispute that lasted 13 months.

The two sides have scheduled another bargaining session for this afternoon and will meet again twice next week. Negotiators have been scheduling meetings on a week-to-week basis.

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