Unions to sign agreement

In less than two weeks, the University and its two labor unions, Locals 34 and 35, are slated to agree on a new three-year union contract, union members said Friday.

The yet-to-be finalized agreement, which remains largely similar to the current contract between the University and its unions, was announced to union members earlier this week. And although the unions have shared a historically embattled relationship with Yale in the past, the timing of this contract signing – roughly nine months ahead of time – led some union members to feel optimistic about their future with the University.

The timing of the agreement, some union members said, was emblematic of the departure from the troubled past three decades relationship.

Because of Yale’s current economic malaise, the proposed union contract, which will be voted on by the unions on April 14, will only last three years.

With some concessions by both parties — including stronger job security language, which was fought for by union officials after the University indicated that widespread layoffs were inevitable — the terms of the agreement are relatively the same as stated in the current eight-year contract, union members said Friday. But the members also stressed that the contract language must still be finalized.

The union members attributed the creation of the early contract to a better relationship among the parties due to the “Best Practices” agreement created in the current contract. Modeled after labor practices in other corporate environments, the “Best Practices” board members, comprised of University administrators and union officials, can resolve conflicts and better labor relations, according to the Locals 34 and 35 union contracts.

Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel did not immediately respond to a request for comment left at his office Friday afternoon. The Labor-Management Relations division of the Human Resources department referred comment Friday to the Office of Public Affairs.

University spokeswoman Helaine Klasky had no comment when contacted by the News on Friday afternoon.

The half-dozen union members interviewed Friday said they were excited by the early creation of the new contract. But many declined to discuss specific details because they were told not to discuss them until the day of the vote.

The presidents for Locals 34 and 35 — Laura Smith and Bob Proto, respectively — and Yale unions spokesman Evan Cobb GRD ’05 did not immediately return a request for comment left on their voicemails Friday afternoon.

For Maureen Malone Jones, a library services assistant in Sterling Memorial Library and a steering committee member of the Best Practices initiative, the move is “historic.”

“We had a strike almost every time a contract had been coming up. It’s been a very, very hard relationship and with the language that we won in our last contract [the “Best Practices” initiative], it set the precedent for trying to do it a new way,” said Jones, who is a Local 34 district representative and had worked to create the union in 1983. “We try to understand their interest, and they try to understand ours.”

Shirley Lin, a Local 34 district representative who works in the Genetics department in the School of Medicine, said the current agreement “adds progress and growth” to the union’s labor conditions and will allow the parties to revisit labor issues when the economy improves. She said she will vote for the agreement.

“I think it’d be a wonderful change of pace for students to go through a 4-year or 6-year program without having to encounter a strike,” she said.

To be sure, an agreement forged nine months early is a vast improvement from 2002, the last time the unions negotiated an agreement with Yale. Union members eventually voted to sign a contract with the University in Sept. 2003, after nineteen months of rocky negotiations and over four weeks of striking.

The contract’s eight-year term was the longest ever for a University labor contract. Union members said the economy was better, and thus workers felt more comfortable with a long-term contract. The University had proposed a ten-year term at the time.

Local 34 is Yale’s clerical and technical employee union, and Local 35 is Yale’s service and maintenance employee union.

Paul Needham contributed reporting.


  • Yale grad

    I'm glad to see a less acrimonious chapter in Yale-34-35 labor relations. Good job to everyone involved for coming to a reasonable-sounding extension/agreement nine months early.

  • Yale '12

    I think this is a really positive step forward for Yale's previously fraught labor relations. I'm so glad Yale has learned that treating its workers and their representatives poorly is not the path to a successful future, especially in this economic climate.

  • '07

    On the other hand, those weekly $120 meal plan refunds were pretty sweet.

  • Anonymous

    kudos to all sides for working together! enough of the acrimony. good work and heres to hoping it works out and lays the groundwork for continued good will and cooperation.

  • jesse

    i was really looking forward to jesse jackson coming back to get the troops fired up. No raises for the M&P's while the C&Ts clean up.

  • '06 Alum

    Congratulations are due all around. Well done all.

    By the way, @#3 '07, all students can get a meal plan refund EVERY week by moving off campus. I highly recommend it.

  • unregistered

    To the comment of #07 Respectfully, you likely represent some union C&T members..who are the non team players who take advantage of the good hard workers and Supervisors with task avoiding behaviors and pure laziness!!! A big wopping $125.00 for a meal plan. Do you live with your parents and pay no expenses.Most ALL Yale University employees are honorable, responsible adults who have bills to pay and your immature comment that $120.00 is sweet is nonsense.
    And who pays your expenses to live 07?? Get real, Unions protect the lazy abusive employees who force the good emplyees to pick up their slack!!!!
    Peace out #07 & I will be happy to sign the new contract..

  • B.C. Tom

    The mayor must be disappointed. No election year grandstanding in support of the union to put his name on the news. I heard they raised everyone's parking rates to pay for this contract.

  • smokey the bear

    Tom#8 - you are feeding us a lot of balogna with your response about the parking. I work in parking and this isnt true. we never raise rates mid year.

  • Anonymous

    #8 probably still thinks tuition funds most of this university.

  • B.C. Tom

    Hey Smokey, Are you the person who screwed up the payroll deductions that gave everyone an unauthorized discount?

  • Anonymous

    How wonderful not to have to worry about our next contract, thanks! However, I hope the general union members get more specific informaton before we vote on it! Right now all is hearsay…

  • yale grad

    Ah, YDN comment threads. Let the uninformed bullshitting begin!

    Meanwhile, glad there's no need for a big fight/strike this cycle. Good job to both sides for coming to an agreement early.

  • Anonymous

    So Evan Cobb has progressed from GESO noisemaker to union spokesperson. Has that kid EVER worked in his life?

  • ex M&P

    it never ends - unions get everything while M&Ps gets screwed…..so glad i don't work at yale anymore. M&Ps get small raises & layoffs while unions get raises + job security….sounds normal to me!

  • Dan G.

    To #14: Get a life.

  • Zach

    Sounds like the M&Ps need a union.

  • Talkaboutidiots

    Glad to see YDN commenters are as fracking idiotic as those in any other slice of the blogosphere…

  • M. Mager

    @ #14. I guess teaching undergrads for years and coordinating the messaging and communications for 3 Unions isn't work. Right. It's obvious that the reason you're commenting anonymous is because you're rightfully embarrassed to identify yourself as a person who would make such ignorant personal attacks. You should be ashamed of yourself.