After extended — and we hope productive — preparations for negotiations, Yale and its recognized unions will finally sit down together at the bargaining table today. Leaders on both sides have constantly espoused a seemingly genuine desire to transcend their acrimonious past and forge a new, more cooperative relationship for the future.
It is unfortunate that the author and publishers of a recent report on the relationship between Yale and New Haven are seemingly working to prevent that cooperation from happening, and it is embarrassing that they chose such a simplistic and potentially destructive way to do it.
The report, officially titled “Schools, Taxes and Jobs,” was written by Antony Dugdale, one of the unions’ researchers, and released last week by the Connecticut Center for a New Economy, which has recently published several other union-affiliated publications emphasizing Yale’s responsibility to the community.
In the report, Dugdale argues that Yale owes the city $12.5 million — the difference between what the city received from the University and the state and what Yale would owe the city if it had to pay taxes.
The reasoning is deeply flawed. Of the more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the United States, none pay anywhere near the amount of taxes the report argues Yale should.
What’s more, New Haven receives more direct funding as the result of playing host to a nonprofit university than any other city in America, mostly through a state program called Payment in Lieu of Taxes — commonly known as PILOT — designed to compensate cities for the taxes universities do not have to pay.
Yale officials, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and city education officials have all condemned the report, which seems to have little value beyond that of political propaganda. New Haven Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo said it best when he told the New Haven Register that the report was a way of “using education as a way to get back at Yale.”
This is disturbing on several levels.
First, it is worrisome that propaganda is being distributed immediately before the start of a negotiating session that both sides claim will be a chance to mend their past differences. There seems to be no positive outcome of the decision to circulate such material.
More importantly, it is appalling that CCNE would drag the New Haven schools — whose shortcomings are indeed cause for concern — into the middle of the labor dispute. By politicizing the problems of the school system in this way, CCNE is committing the same kind of educational negligence it accuses the University of allowing.
It is our sincere hope that the upcoming labor negotiations will be resolved peacefully and that Yale and local schools will be able to work together. Unfortunately, the CCNE report only decreases the likelihood of both.