Yale Security ratifies first contract

More than a year after they first voted to form a union, Yale Security officers formalized their unionization by reaching a contract agreement with the University Wednesday.

After approximately 15 bargaining sessions, the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professions of America (SPFPA) — the larger labor organization that now represents Yale Security officers — ratified their inaugural contract with the University that will see yearly wage increases of 2.5 percent for union members through January 2015, Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said in an email to the News. The agreement comes more than a year after last October’s 66 to 62 vote in favor of unionization, and just a week after the Yale Police Department’s union ratified their own six-year contract with the University.

“The negotiations went well over a year, but at the end of them we’ve come to a very reasonable agreement with Yale,” said Tom Hearn, the union’s Pennsylvania-based lead negotiator. “Our members seem to be well pleased with the contract.”

In addition to the wage increases, Hearn said the new contract will allow for officer input into their uniforms and the creation of a lead worker position, which he said will give officers the opportunity to gain managerial experience. Most of the contract is “pretty standard” and consistent with the University’s benefits plans, Hearn added.

The contract also contains language on operational improvements and outlines strategies to reduce costs in areas such as health care, Lindner said.

“We were encouraged that [the contract] was finally sped up and finally got done,” University President Richard Levin said Wednesday night. “It was a protracted negotiation, but in the end we were finally able to come to closure. When we made a final offer, that got their attention, and we were able to come to a very reasonable agreement for both sides.”

Though Wednesday’s contract took over a year to hammer out, Hearn said in most circumstances a similar contract would not take a year to negotiate. There were many disagreements that existed in the past that needed to be resolved, Heard said, though he declined to elaborate on what those problems were.

“We’ve come to an amicable resolution to those issues and they’re no longer in discussion,” he said when asked about the causes of the protracted negotiations. ”To focus on those issues now would not be productive.”

Throughout contract negotiations, both parties grappled with market rates and the operational standards required of security officers, Lindner said. The final contract’s provisions are “fair and reasonable” for the University and the security officers represented by the union, she added.

Wednesday’s finalization of Yale Security’s unionization comes after a series of major changes to the department beginning in December 2009, when the University laid off 13 officers. One former high-ranking Yale Security officer, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid jeopardizing future employment, told the News at the time that the layoffs prompted talk of unionization, which had been nonexistent beforehand.

After the narrow passage of last October’s unionization vote, it took the National Labor Relations Board another month to certify the vote after several contested ballots. The University and the SPFPA entered into negotiations in March.

At those meetings took place, the University also negotiated a new contract with the Yale Police Department’s union. That deal was ratified Oct. 26 and included annual across-the-board wage increases from 2 to 3 percent through June 2016.

Approximately 140 Yale Security officers are covered under the SPFPA’s new contract.

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