Security officers decry changes as unsafe

Amidst reports of tension between the Yale Police and administration, sources with close ties to Yale Security have accused the University of altering deployment policies to penalize the security force for unionizing — a change the sources said jeopardizes student safety.

Multiple sources with close ties to Yale Security — who asked to remain anonymous due to concern about retribution — claimed the administration recently changed security patterns as a form of “retaliation” after Yale Security unionized in 2010. They alleged that the administration has left established security posts like parking garages largely unattended by transferring security officers to walking patrols. Administators have also breached the security officers’ contracts, the sources said, by moving and segmenting shifts and reducing overtime opportunities with the hiring of security guards through unaffiliated security companies.

Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner told the News last week that the changes are a result of budget conditions and will not threaten student safety. On Monday, she also denied any claims of retaliation, adding that she “completely respect[s]” the Security union’s contract and right to organize.

But the sources with Security ties disagreed.

“Ever since we unionized, the University has been making our lives miserable,” said one source with close ties to Yale Security and about 10 years of service to the University, adding that at some points during the weekend, Yale Security “only [has] one person patrolling all of the garages at Yale.”

“They’re messing around with our shifts, cutting them up in ways that aren’t in the contract, and that’s a breach of contract,” another source close to Yale Security with almost 20 years of service to the University said. “But the administration is saying ‘management’s rights’ mean they can do whatever they want. They’re playing games with us.”

Since September, administrators have reassigned security officers — traditionally posted inside University facilities — to street patrol roles, replacing professionally trained Yale Police Department officers. Unlike Yale Police officers, Yale Security guards are unarmed and not authorized to detain suspects or make arrests. Lindner, who oversees both Yale Police and Yale Security, said that management’s rights gives administrators “the right to think about how to run and deploy” security forces.

Lindner said the changes were part of a push to establish security officers as more visible presences on campus for both members of the Yale community and potential criminals. She said that while there have been changes to patrol assignments, walking patrols for security officers are not a new occurrence, as Yale Security guards have traditionally completed tours on foot, bike and segway as part of their duties.

“Instead of walking through the residential college, [the security officer] will now step outside,” Lindner said. “They have visible neon jackets so they’re much more of a presence.”

But the sources with close ties to Yale Security said security officers see these changes as punitive. The source with almost 20 years of service said security officers are now stationed along the Farmington Canal, where an undergraduate was assaulted on Sunday. He added that security officers ought to be provided with training and self-defense if they are to be stationed in areas that traditionally have seen high crime rates like Farmington Canal.

Lindner said security officers are “fully capable” of carrying out their job, and she refuted the claim that the they are not adequately trained for their positions.

“They wouldn’t be working at Yale University if they weren’t competent professionals who were trained and know how to handle their professional duties. No one’s asking them to be police [officers],” Lindner said. She added that a Yale Security officer’s job is to prevent crime, with duties like providing Safe Rides services and calling Yale Police officers during any criminal incidents.

But the source with about 20 years of service disagreed and expressed concerns about security officers’ safety.

“The administration is putting us where all the crime is the worst — they want us in the problem areas with a bright green shirt,” the source said. “We’ve got a target on our backs.”

The source who served the University for about ten years expressed concern that the administration will work to phase out Yale Security by increasingly hiring privately contracted — and therefore non-union — personnel referred to as “casuals” as security officers retire.

Lindner said administrators have not cut any security or police officers and does not plan to reduce the hours of current employees in favor of privately contracted “casuals.” She explained that while Yale Security is currently made up of full-time employees, part-time employees and some “casuals,” the administration is moving toward a workforce that largely consists of regular part-time employees who work about 20 hours a week. Lindner added that this accommodates many officers who have two jobs.

But despite Yale’s hiring criteria that “casuals” possess a strong knowledge of Yale, the source with about ten years of service to the University said that these unaffiliated security guards do not know the University as well as Yale Security officers and added that the “casuals” receive overtime work when unionized officers do not.

The source also said that the union brought charges of unfair labor practices against the University last week and added that the union is considering a vote of no-confidence in security management in the near future. Lindner said she was unaware of these charges and added that officers can utilize the grievance process within their contracts to formalize any complaints.

Security Chief Union Steward Mike Rubino declined to comment.

Yale Security voted to unionize in November 2010, citing concerns for job security and alleged departmental mismanagement. Throughout the process, the administration challenged unionization efforts through the National Labor Relations Board, successfully disputing Yale Security’s eligibility to unionize under an AFL-CIO union and later contesting ballots in its unionization bid.

After about a year of negotiations and 15 bargaining sessions, Yale Security officers, now represented by the International Union of Security Police and Fire Professions of America (SPFPA), reached a formal contract agreement with the University in November 2011.

The SPFPA represents approximately 140 Yale Security Officers.

Everett Rosenfeld contributed reporting.

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