The six-year contracts for Yale’s clerical, technical, service and maintenance workers expired Sunday, but union and University leaders said they do not expect any problems with continuing the terms of the old contracts while they negotiate new ones.
Yale officials and leaders of locals 34 and 35, which represent nearly 4,000 Yale workers, said they have not discussed whether they will make any changes now that the contracts have expired.
In the past, both sides have followed the terms of the expired contract until new ones were settled, but the expiration of the “no strike, no lockout” clause allowed the unions to strike when negotiations reached a standstill. This year leaders from both sides said they have not discussed the terms of the interim contract provisions, but did not expect them to present a problem.
Leaders from both sides said it is not uncommon for contracts to expire before new ones are settled. This year both sides have agreed to delay negotiations as they attempt to improve the traditionally tumultuous relationship between the University and its unions.
“If you look back in the history, maybe once or twice in our long history we have settled contracts by the deadline,” Local 35 President Bob Proto said. “The last took over a year, so the way were looking at it is let’s make the necessary commitment and take the necessary steps to get the process going in a positive way that prevents it from being the old traditional adversarial way.”
Though negotiations have typically started in early November, leaders from both sides spent the fall meeting with representatives from a labor management firm in the hopes of finding ways to improve the overall relationship between the unions and University. Last week, consultant John Stepp presented his findings in a report that criticized the relationship as “dysfunctional.”
Officials still have not set a date for beginning negotiations. In February, bargaining team members from both sides will receive training from Stepp on mutual interest bargaining, a strategy they may adopt in the hopes of avoiding the tensions and strikes that have frequently accompanied the renewal process over the last 30 years.
–Arielle Levin Becker