Yale shuffles labor negotiations team



Capping off a year of administrative shake-ups, Yale this summer saw several more major changes in its top ranks, including in the University’s labor-relations team.

Former Yale Vice President for Finance and Administration Robert Culver, who oversaw negotiations with Yale’s unions, was replaced by Yale Vice President of New Haven and State Affairs Bruce Alexander. Former Yale Executive Director of Administration Janet Lindner has also taken a place at the bargaining table, as the interim associate vice president for administration, replacing longtime Yale official Peter Vallone. Meanwhile, longtime Yale Registrar Barry Kane will leave his position Oct. 1 to take the equivalent position at Harvard.

These changes come into effect as Yale faces a strike, currently in its eighth day, by its two largest unions.

Lindner said the changes are not related to the on-going tensions between Yale and its unions.

“It’s just a natural progression,” she said. “It has nothing to do with labor relations.”

Thousands of clerical and technical workers of Local 34 and the maintenance and service workers of Local 35 have been on strike since Aug. 27.

Both Alexander and Lindner said the core team of Yale officials involved with the strike remains in place. Lindner, for instance, was in charge of the University contingency plan during the week-long March strike. Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith is currently directing the contingency plan.

“This is the team that’s managing the University so well during the strike,” Alexander said. “They are top-notch people who care very much about Yale and Yale students.”

Local 35 President Bob Proto said he was not too concerned with the changes in the administration.

“[Yale President] Rick Levin is the ultimate decision-maker,” Proto said.

Alexander has temporarily taken over for Culver while maintaining his current position.

“As the vice president with the most business and financial experience, I’m pitching in with this additional capacity for a time,” Alexander said.

Earlier this summer, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. told the New Haven Register he was concerned about the turnover. He said it could be difficult for Alexander to serve both Yale and the New Haven communities effectively.

Lindner said it is not uncommon for an institution like Yale to have turnover in its ranks.

“That’s very normal for a university of this size,” she said. “What is unusual and delightful is that we’ve had a president who has been here for 10 years,” she said, referring to Levin.

She also noted that Labor Relations Director Brian Tunney is still in place.

Vallone retired from his position in May after 18 years at Yale. Culver returned to Boston, where his family lives, after serving at Yale for two years.

Lindner said she does not know whether there will be a search to replace her in the interim position. She said she is currently focusing on the strike.

“Right now — I’m focusing on getting a labor agreement in place and taking care of operations,” she said.

Kane is leaving Yale after seven years to replace Harvard Registrar Arlene Becella.

“Certainly the qualities, the roles that [Kane] had at Yale would certainly be significant in terms of the skills he would bring to this job,” said Robert Mitchell, Harvard’s Director of Communications for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Neither Kane nor Culver could be reached for comment.

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