Labor talks stall on pensions



Pat McGloin, the head pantry worker in Davenport College, had originally planned to retire when she turned 62 years old. But because of what she considers a poor pension package, McGloin, now 59, has now pushed off her retirement until 66. Under the University’s current proposal, McGloin said she will make $600 a month or less.

“I don’t expect to live like I’m living now [when I retire],” McGloin said. “I expect to cut back a little bit, but I don’t expect to live in poverty.”

As union members continue a strike with an uncertain end date, pensions undoubtedly have become the most contentious issue at the bargaining table. Yale has characterized the unions’ pension proposal as unrealistic. Yet union leaders have maintained that because so many of their workers are retiring in this contract term, pensions are especially salient. In addition, many striking workers have said securing a better pension is one of the primary reasons they are striking.

Pensions have come to the forefront in this round of talks, McGloin said, because many recent retirees have been telling current workers how difficult it is to live on a Yale pension.

Retirees currently receive pensions on a monthly basis. The amount each employee receives is calculated by a formula taking into account years of service, salary at the age of retirement, and a multiplier that the two sides must agree on. The University offers a defined pensions plan, meaning that pensions are not affected by the volatility of the economy.

The University’s most recent proposal offers a multiplier of 1.25 percent across all salary grades, which is used to determine the value of workers’ pensions. The unions are proposing a pension multiplier of 1.95 percent. Although the two sides have moved closer to a final multiplier, there still remains a $15 to $16 million gap in the first-year costs of the two sides’ proposals, leaders said.

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the unions’ pension plan is unrealistic. He said that while the unions have made significant adjustments on their initial wage offers, they have not made similar modifications to their pension proposal.

“It is an issue where, as compared to some other issues, there is a larger gulf between the two parties’ proposals,” he said.

The unions often do not take into account other factors, such as Social Security benefits, when discussing their retirement funds, Conroy said. He added that because pensions are not a fixed monetary amount, an employee will receive a larger pension package if other parts of their contracts, such as wages, increase.

But many union members who are nearing retirement said they are still worried about retiring with inadequate pensions.

Rosemary Carey, 61, a senior administrative assistant at Yale Law School, said she has been working at Yale for 19 years and hopes to retire within this contract term. She said Yale’s unwillingness to accept the unions’ contract proposal reflects the administration’s lack of respect for workers who have been at the University for many years.

“The long-term people here don’t really feel like they’re valued here at all because if they were, the pension would be higher,” Carey said.

McGloin said although she has had to make short-term sacrifices during the strike, she is willing to do so for the sake of posterity.

“I don’t think I’ll ever make up the money I’m losing,” McGloin said. “Naturally I would be fighting for the future of young people here at Yale.”

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