Negotiators for Yale’s two largest unions reduced their proposals for across-the-board salary increases Wednesday, saying they hoped to advance recently slowed contract talks.
Union leaders said they hoped the University would respond positively to the new proposals. But Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the changes are too small to impact negotiations significantly.
The new proposals come as Yale and its unions negotiate for new contracts. Negotiations have been ongoing since February but have stalled in recent months. Union leaders have indicated earlier that they are planning a three-day walkout this fall if contract talks do not improve.
The new union proposals reduced their initial wage proposals by about 1 percent each year. Early this summer, union leaders asked for annual raises of 10 and 7 percent for locals 34 and 35, respectively. Later in the summer, union leaders reduced their proposals by half a percentage point for the third and fourth years of the contracts. Yesterday’s updated proposals ask for 9 percent annual raises for Local 34 and 6 percent annual raises for Local 35 for each of four years.
In June, University leaders proposed annual across-the-board raises of 4 and 3 percent for locals 34 and 35, respectively. The University has not made any further offers.
Locals 34 and 35 represent nearly 4,000 clerical, technical, service, dining hall and maintenance workers.
Local 35 President Bob Proto said he wants the proposal to jump-start negotiations.
“We made the move because the University has not taken negotiations seriously and has not been bargaining with us,” Proto said.
Conroy said the new offer represents such a minor change from the unions’ original wage proposal that the University cannot consider it a major step in negotiations.
“Their initial proposal was so unrealistic that a very small change is not in the category of a promising signal,” Conroy said.
Conroy added that Yale’s initial wage proposal, put forward in June, was a very serious attempt by the University to promote a new partnership with the unions.
“The initial proposal was significant and serious,” Conroy said. He added that the University will keep trying to come to an agreement with the unions as negotiations continue today.
Union leaders said yesterday’s proposal was unusual because the University had not made a counteroffer since the unions’ last proposals. Local 34 President Laura Smith said the union reached the decision to present the new proposals after considerable debate.
“We thought this was our best option because it’s a very strong move,” Smith said.
Proto added that union leaders would like to see Yale follow the recommendations of labor-management consultant John Stepp, who led negotiation sessions in the new interest-based process last year until May. The consultant recommended the two sides establish a “best practices” labor-management committee to oversee labor relations. The two sides have offered differing proposals on the specifics of a best practices committee.
Smith said she hopes to see concrete and positive response from the University at the bargaining table.
“This is a move against ourselves,” she said. “[But] we’re very concerned with making progress towards a settlement.”