Yale, unions agree on contract

After nearly a year of negotiations, Yale administrators and leaders of the University’s Local 34 and Local 35 labor unions announced on Wednesday that they had reached an agreement on new four-year contracts.

The new contracts, which will succeed current contracts expiring in January 2013, address all aspects of employment for the unions’ combined 4,700 members — from wages and health benefits to career development initiatives and local hiring programs, union officials said. UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35 represent Yale’s technical, clerical and dining hall employees, and according to Michael Peel, the University’s vice president for human resources and administration, the new agreement’s 3 percent annual wage increases will put union pay above the 90th percentile of comparable jobs.

University President Richard Levin said in a press release that the new contracts recognize Yale employees’ “outstanding contribution” to the University’s mission and help extend a “cooperative working relationship” with the unions that has developed in the past decade.

“Our union is highly supportive of the new agreements — we achieved the goals our members were calling for,” said Maureen Jones, vice president of Local 34 and a Sterling Memorial Library employee. “I’ve been here for 32 years, and I’m always happy when the unions and Yale can work collaboratively.”

Beyond what officials called “highly competitive” wage packages, some of the most significant changes to the union contracts include job advancement and local hiring initiatives, Jones said. She added that the new agreement establishes a dedicated career development office to help employees develop a career path and improve their chances at earning promotions. The office will be overseen by a joint union and administration steering committee and will assist clerical and technical staff, Peel said.

In addition to the career development office, the new contracts also strengthen internal hiring by guaranteeing job interviews for internal, union applicants seeking promotion within Yale, Peel said, adding that union and University leaders aim to fill two-thirds of future promotional positions with internal hires.

The new agreement also includes a formal jobs pipeline program for city residents which arose after 92 percent of respondents in an internal Local 34 survey said there was a “crisis of joblessness” in New Haven, Jones said. University and union officials said the pipeline will make it easier for Elm City residents to attain entry-level positions at Yale.

“[The jobs pipeline program] is a great leadership effort by Yale and labor to connect people in New Haven to jobs in New Haven,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said in an email. “I hope and expect other workplaces will follow suit.”

Union hires and their families will also continue to have access to free health care through the Yale Health Plan. But because approximately 70 percent of union staff live outside of New Haven, where the Yale Health plan is based, Peel said the contract also includes a cheaper external health insurance option.

Correction: June 29, 2012

A previous version of this article misstated the name of Local 34 vice president Maureen Jones.


  • gradstudent16

    Sigh. The YDN gets 34’s VP’s name wrong. Maureen Jones.

  • phantomllama

    Utterly appalling to see Yale getting in line behind the unions. What about those New Haven residents who don’t want anything to do with them?

  • yellowasp

    Nothing like destroying competitiveness, lowering service standards, and charging students more to represent Yale values. I mean, who doesn’t love the courtesy and efficiency of Commons employees?

    • kdaysandtou

      God you’re miserable. We shouldn’t pay employees a fair wage so we can remain “competitive”? Are you calling for a reduction in President Levin’s salary? What about the fleet of highly-paid administrators? What exactly is happening here that will lower service standards? And even if Commons isn’t the greatest place to eat, most of the other dining halls are well-staffed by good employees.

      What do you expect from these people? Have you ever worked a real job, even for just a summer? If you had to work at Commons 40 hours a week for years and years, serving food to rich kids to support a modest lifestyle, you wouldn’t be an enthusiastic, chipper employee either.

      It’s really worrying how vocal this faction of bitter Yale conservatives is. Go ahead and vote Republican and tell yourself how much more hard-working and intelligent you are than regular people, but at least keep it to yourself.

      • yellowasp

        When unions rob employers of the ability to fire incompetent workers, it eliminates the incentive for workers to actually work. Why would I want to reduce Levin’s salary? He’s not unionized. He screws up and he’s gone. What will lower service standards? The fact that no matter how lazy or rude the workers are that they will not be fired.

        What do I expect? I expect not to be shouted at. I expect an effort at making sure there is enough food at the right places. I expect employees not to chit chat loudly in busy areas where students are trying to get food (and obstruct them/make lines longer). I also expect them to make the effort of extending their hands to swipe a card.

        I can tell you that when I worked for minimum wage in the food service industry, I worked a whole lot harder than any commons employee. Why? My boss made sure I didn’t slack, and I knew I was easily replaceable. I wasn’t entitled to a job.

        Got to hate minorities who disagree with you, eh? If only those conservatives would go away. Interesting to see how tolerance fails to extend to those who have different views than your own.

        • ernie

          So you want Yale’s employees to be (a) barely paid enough to support their families and (b) constantly threatened with unemployment so that (c) you don’t have to deal with them chit-chatting loudly in busy areas.

          No one thinks you shouldn’t be allowed to express your opinion (though you clearly have quite the martyr complex); it’s just that your vision of a lower class held in perpetual threat of poverty so that they’re better motivated to serve you is, well, appalling.

      • sonofmory

        seriously – If you had to work at Commons 40 hours a week for years and years, serving food to rich kids to support a modest lifestyle, you wouldn’t be an enthusiastic, chipper employee either.

        If you hate your job – then leave it. if not, be happy you have one and do it with pride. using longevity as an excuse not to be happy and do your job well is pathetic and exactly the mentality that makes the union so abhorred on this campus!

      • phantomllama

        What we definitely shouldn’t do is create a bizarre artificial economy where Yale jobs pay multiples higher than their New Haven economy. By all means pay a fair market rate, but we’re paying in excess of $22 per hour for card-swipers in some dining halls. That’s insanity.

        If you want to spend your life doing social action projects, great – go ahead. But Yale is a university, not a massive social action project for the city of New Haven. Let’s open up our jobs to the free market, and welcome as employees both those who affiliate with unions along with those who don’t. Then let’s see who’s more efficient.

  • Quals

    Ladies and gentleman, this is why you pay so much for your dining plans relative to other schools

  • sonofmory

    guaranteeing interviews for internal union applicants seeking promotion within yale. Nice, so we need to backlog the hiring process to guarantee an interview for as many non-qualified union candidates who would like to be promotes. at what point are non-unionized staff going to be treated with such respect???

    • ernie

      “at what point are non-unionized staff going to be treated with such respect???”

      I think you’re missing the point. The university will never simply grant something like a promotion plan out of “respect”–it will always have to be won as a concession by a collective body capable of wielding power against the university: a union. It’s not squeezing non-unionized employees when the benefit won is one that *no one* would have had without unionization.

  • sonofmory

    a promotion plan should be based on merit – not because it is a bullet point in a labor agreement. giving people a chance at promotion because they are a member of a group sounds like a bad form of affirmative action. more bureaucracy is going to get Yale further bogged down in the mire.

    • ernie

      The bureaucracy miring Yale is the proliferating legion of vice presidents, not the dining hall and clerical staffs. And the commitment to promotion consideration is nothing like affirmative action; it’s simply an employment benefit for staff, akin to the tenure system for faculty.

      • sonofmory

        you cannot get tenure as a faculty member if you are terrible at your job…you can get promotion consideration as a union worker if you are terrible at your job.

        • ernie

          Well, all tenure-track faculty come up for tenure review; many are then denied tenure while some are granted it. Similarly, what’s being promised here is not promotion but the chance to be considered for it; some of those considered will be promoted, and some won’t be.

  • The Anti-Yale

    When i was a high school graduate 50 years ago I had no problem getting a job as a gofer in the Chem lab glassblowing warehouse in Strathcona. It was a colossally BORING job bur had two interesting septuagenarians as bosses, both of whom knew every piece of the thousands of hand made glass blown chemistry pieces in the warehouse and the exact drawer of hundreds of drawers those pieces could be found in.

    This was BEFORE the age of computers. Those guys’ brains WERE the computers.

    Once I had a college degree however, the arrogance of the Yale Personnel Department became an insufferable snare.

    If this agreement pops that pompous balloon and makes entry applications less arduously “insider elitist”, more power to the union.

    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div. 80


  • DocHollidaye

    Honestly Unions? When are we going to learn they are dinosaurs past their time.

  • joey00

    Gee it really looks like a collossal failure by hers truly Linda McMan ,i mean Lorimer . She promised to tackle the issues that swamped campus. Ala Wisconsin , many were rooting for the team of all stars they assembled to rid or severely beat down an absolutely good for nothing union of pros at breaks and hiding..New Contract – Contracting donuts and benches