Vote on union contract set for tonight

Yale’s two labor unions, Locals 34 and 35, are slated to approve an early contract agreement tonight.

Forged nine months ahead of schedule in collaboration with union officials and University administrators, the contract will provide improved job security, raises and other benefits. Interviews with dozens of unionized employees over the last two weeks indicate that union members are willing to accept the contract because of current economic uncertainty and the ongoing University layoffs.

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Local 34 members will hold their contract ratification vote at 5:30 p.m. in Battell Chapel; Local 35 members will vote on their contract at 5:00 p.m. in Center Church on the Green.

Nonetheless, the early agreement has come as a shock to many union employees, as it marks a striking departure from Yale’s recent labor history, which is riddled with about 10 union strikes and many failed negotiations.

Today, top Yale administrators, including University President Richard Levin, Locals 34 and 35 officials, and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. will be releasing key details about the contract in a press conference at noon.

Although University administrators and union officials are reserving comment on the contract for after the noon press conference, Local 34 President Laura Smith has said she is supportive of the agreement. In a union newsletter addressed to union members, Smith attributed the improved labor relationship with the University to the Best Practices initiative.

“We have worked hard,” she said in the April newsletter, “and are pleased to present this agreement.”

Interviews with over a dozen union members who have attended explanatory meetings on the contract over the last week have revealed some of the changes that may occur, if the contract is approved.

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