Group follows best practices meetings



A new information-gathering group will be the latest step in Yale’s effort to increase labor efficiency, employee satisfaction and service quality, two members of the Labor-Management Policy Board leading the program said this weekend.

The University and its unions had agreed as part of their most recent contract to work on best practices in hopes of improving labor relations at Yale. The new group will be responsible for meeting with the best practices groups in individual departments and communicating back what they have learned to union and University leaders.

The best practices effort took on greater momentum after University Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper ’60 took office last January. Since then, the Policy Board and Innovative Work Systems Initiatives Steering Committee have been created to work on the issue and have made progress, both sides say.

“Of course John Pepper and myself can’t ride around to every group and get feedback,” said Local 35 President Bob Proto, a member of the Policy Board along with Pepper. “These folks are going to be communicators, gatherers.”

The final nominations for the four-member group were made two weeks ago, Pepper said, and the members will meet with the Policy Board this week. He said the group will see how many departmental groups exist at Yale, how they are meeting internal challenges, and whether they need more resources.

“They are identifying what’s already there and working to identify what makes them work,” Pepper said.

Pepper and Proto will attend many of the departmental meetings, Proto said, but the group will fill in at any meetings they cannot attend.

Both administrative and union representatives on the information group said they were looking forward to working together. Berkeley first cook Michael Schoen, a member of the group, said work on the menus and training dining hall workers received this summer serves as a model of the way the relationship should be. Previously, he said, the workers had just been handed the recipes and told to make them. He said now there was an opportunity for real input.

“We were actually involved,” Schoen said. “We really took ownership for the recipes.”

The group should be able to catalogue what is going on and find “good parallels” to see what may work in other areas, said group member Susan Grajek, the director of communication and technical support for information technology at the Yale School of Medicine. Eventually the group might develop a Web site listing tools other departments have used successfully to promote best practices, Grajek said.

Rounding out the information-gathering group are Associate Director of Facilites Kara Tavella and Local 34 member Duane Mellor.

There are more than a dozen departmental groups now, including some at the golf course and animal resource center, Pepper said. He said the groups consist of between eight and 16 people.

“I think what we ought to have is 50 to 100 of them,” Pepper said.

At the animal resource center, significant progress on best practices has been made, center senior manager of administrative services Paula Wilson said. For example, the center had originally planned on bringing in more managers, Wilson said, but after talking with the employees instead gave the workers more responsibility.

“The felt they were up to the task of being accountable for taking on these roles,” she said.

Groups should launch at the Yale Health Plan and Yale University Dining Services soon, Pepper said.

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