As workers return to work following a three-week strike, union leaders say they are planning to shift their focus to internal union matters and other organizing drives. Yale leaders, meanwhile, plan to focus on other parts of the University after 19-months of negotiations.
Local 35 President Bob Proto said members of the service and maintenance union re-elected leaders at a membership meeting Wednesday night. He plans to appoint a committee to determine, with the help of attorneys, whether it is possible to penalize union members who crossed picket lines during the strike.
Yale President Richard Levin said with negotiations over, University officials can focus on other orders of business. Levin is heading a search for a new School of Medicine dean, as well as planning a November trip to China.
“People are settling back into their normal routines, attending to normal business,” Levin said. “In a certain way, a lot of University leaders were heavily occupied with negotiations and making sure the campus was running smoothly.”
Yale and union leaders said they are working together to ensure that union members can resume working with few problems. Interim Associate Vice-President for Administration Janet Lindner said the University was planning to hold pizza parties and other events this week to reinforce a dialogue between non-unionized managers and union members as workers settle back into their jobs.
Russell Alling, manager of the Jonathan Edwards College dining hall, said managerial and professional staff were able to work with employees to ensure that dining halls reopened smoothly. Alling said managers and workers alike seemed happy to put the strike behind them.
“I feel like they are satisfied with their contracts, and they’re looking forward to getting on with their lives,” Alling said. “We’re both here for the same reason — to feed the students.”
Some union members who did not strike said they were nervous about what the atmosphere would be like at their workplaces once striking workers returned.
Pamela Clifford, a financial assistant at the Law School, continued working during the walkout. She said because her husband, a Local 35 member, went on strike, her family could not afford to lose both incomes.
Clifford said while she expected resentment from workers who did participate in the job action, that has not necessarily been the case.
“It hasn’t been bad,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little chilly at first, but definitely better than I expected.”
Many union members pointed to strong student involvement as a factor that distinguished these negotiations from previous labor disputes at Yale. Student supporters participated in rallies, held teach-ins, and raised money to benefit striking workers. Now that the strike is over, active pro-union students will direct their energies to supporting workers’ rights on a broader level, Undergraduate Organizing Committee spokesperson Josh Eidelson ’06 said.
Eidelson said the UOC — which organized many events to support workers — plans to take advantage of the momentum it gained over the last month and look toward the future.
“We’re going to use the mobilization that happened during the strike to continue to build and continue to move forward,” Eidelson said.
Eidelson said the group will continue to hold regular meetings, though it has not planned any specific events for the near future.
— Staff Reporter Philip Rucker contributed to this report.