Yale and its two largest unions began negotiations on contracts for nearly 4,000 clerical, technical, dining hall, service and maintenance workers last winter. Though labor negotiations at Yale historically have been bitter and contentious — seven of the last 10 negotiations have involved strikes — University and union leaders have been working to forge a new partnership in hopes of mending their relationship. Most directly, leaders agreed to use a new process for contract negotiations called “interest-based bargaining,” which involves working together with a consultant to resolve issues on both sides, rather than making demands.
At the time this issue went to press, union contracts had not been settled, but negotiators had reached tentative agreements on several key points. The old contracts for Yale workers officially expired in January, but leaders have extended them on a month-by-month basis while negotiations continue. Yale officials have said they expect the new contracts to be settled by early summer, but union leaders said they had more concerns that needed to be addressed before they could settle the contracts, and predicted a longer road to new contracts.
Yale President Richard Levin announced last December that he would like to abolish Yale’s early decision program. The discussions incited by Levin’s comments have included concerns about whether students are ready to commit to one college by mid-fall of their senior year, the added stress of deciding early, inequities between privileged and less-advantaged students, and who the early programs are meant to benefit.
Levin has said that he will not take such a step without the cooperation of other competitive colleges and universities, so as not to put Yale at a competitive disadvantage. Other institutions have had mixed reactions to Levin’s idea, but the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently abolished its early decision program. No official changes have been made to Yale’s policy so far.
Last fall, Levin revealed the plan for a comprehensive review of Yale College academics, a project that the University has not undertaken in more than 30 years. Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead is leading a group of administrators, faculty, alumni and students in conducting a yearlong review of the undergraduate curriculum. The 41-person committee, which is divided into four academic subcommittees, began meeting in January. Since then, the four working groups — on biomedical education, the physical sciences and engineering, social and international studies, and the arts and humanities — have been meeting individually and focusing on topics ranging from study abroad to the distributional requirements.
In the spring, Brodhead and various committee members held discussions in the residential colleges to get student feedback. Issues such as undergraduate advising and science classes for non-science majors were hot topics. The committee will continue meeting throughout the rest of the year.
As a component of Levin’s mission to internationalize Yale, the University inaugurated the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization in the fall of 2001 with former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott ’68 as the institute’s head. Soon after its inception, the center gained recognition from the academic world for its first major project — a book on the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks.
But in January, Talbott announced that he would be leaving the center this summer to helm the Brookings Institution, a prestigious think tank in Washington, D.C. His announcement caused controversy within the Yale community and left many to ponder the center’s future.
The institute redeemed itself in April with Levin’s announcement that former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 would succeed Talbott as the center’s director this fall. With many professors and administrators hailing Zedillo’s combination of academic and policy expertise, the Yale community is looking to Zedillo to provide a solid foundation for the globalization center.
GESO and 1199
As two of Yale’s unions continued negotiations over new contracts for Yale workers, two groups connected with Yale’s unions continued their efforts to form unions of their own. One group, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, has been trying to form a union for graduate students, who serve as teaching assistants or research assistants. The group has been trying to unionize for over 12 years, but has gained momentum since TAs were first legally allowed to unionize at New York University in 2000. GESO has repeatedly asked administrators to recognize the group as a union through card-count neutrality, a process in which the University would agree not to make any statements for or against unionization, and would recognize the group if a majority of graduate students turned in signed union cards. University leaders have said they oppose graduate student unionization because they do not think graduate students are employees, and they believe unionization would be detrimental to academia. Administrators have also said they oppose card-count neutrality and have said they would only accept a union if it were formed through a secret-ballot National Labor Relations Board election.
Another group of workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital has also been trying to form a union. Union leaders have called on Levin to recognize the group, but Levin has said that the University and the hospital are separate employers and so he does not have the authority to recognize a hospital worker’s union. Levin sits on the hospital board of directors and has power to appoint eight members of the board, but leaders say the two institutions are separate. The hospital workers trying to organize have also asked to be recognized through card-count neutrality, citing incidences of harassment by hospital staff trying to intimidate workers and arguing that the NLRB election process can be used unfairly by employers to defeat union drives.
In April, Yale announced that the University will invest $200 million in the creation of the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics over the next three to five years.
The goal of the funding is to allow the University to build new facilities and renovate existing ones and also to hire new faculty members and develop research programs devoted to the study of genes and proteins.
This new science initiative is part of the $1 billion recently committed to the sciences. Two years ago, Yale announced a $500 million investment in science and engineering, and then a month later it announced a $500 million dollar investment in the Yale School of Medicine. The initiative to renovate and build numerous Science Hill facilities is underway. The plan includes new facilities for environmental science, chemistry, biology and forestry.
Ivy League recruiting
This May, the Ivy League policy group and athletic directors from around the Ancient Eight discussed potential changes to varsity athletics policies that could go into effect in time for the 2002-03 season.
The discussion comes in the wake of James L. Shulman and William G. Bowen’s book “The Game of Life,” which came out in 2000 and questions whether intensified varsity athletic programs actually add to undergraduate life. Now, the Ivy League is asking those same questions, and some issues under discussion include football recruiting policies and captains’ practices.
The review has already attracted the attention of varsity athletes at Yale, who met with Athletic Director Tom Beckett this spring to discuss the policy initiative before the Athletic Directors’ meeting in May.
Jovin murder investigation
In Dec. 1998, Yale senior Suzanne Jovin was found about 1.5 miles from campus in the wealthy East Rock neighborhood suffering from 17 stab wounds to her neck and back. Police immediately named former political science lecturer James Van de Velde ’82 — Jovin’s thesis advisor — as a suspect in the killing, but to this day have not charged him or anyone else with the crime. The investigation is ongoing, and the New Haven Police Department has frequently received criticism for not being able to bring Jovin’s assailants to justice.
Yale began renovating the residential colleges in 1998 with Berkeley College. Since then, Branford, Saybrook and Timothy Dwight colleges have all been renovated. This year, Vanderbilt Hall on Old Campus will receive a much-needed facelift, forcing freshmen to spend a year in Swing Space. The next college to be renovated is Pierson College, with Davenport, Silliman and Trumbull colleges to follow.
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