The contracts for members of Yale’s two largest unions were extended for another month Wednesday, despite rumors of a November strike.
Because the deadline to cancel contracts passed Wednesday, the contracts for locals 34 and 35 have been automatically renewed through Nov. 30. The contracts contain “no strike, no lockout” clauses, which prohibit job actions while the contracts are in effect.
After the previous contracts expired in January, union and University leaders agreed to extend the old contracts until they reached a new settlement. The contracts are now automatically extended every month unless one side notifies the other 15 days before the start of the next month. Workers have not received annual pay raises because the new contracts have not been settled.
Union and University leaders have been negotiating for new contracts since February. Talks have stalled recently and the two sides have met with a federal mediator to help reach a settlement. Some union members have indicated that the unions are considering a job action next month if negotiations do not progress.
Locals 34 and 35 represent nearly 4,000 clerical, technical, dining hall, service and maintenance workers.
Under the “no strike, no lockout” provisions of the contracts, union members who participate in job actions can be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal. But the extended contracts still allow union members to participate in sympathy strikes of other unions under the same employer.
Virginia Harris, an editorial assistant in the chemistry department and a member of the Local 34 executive board, said union leaders hope to reach an agreement with the University in the near future.
“The best outcome is a negotiated settlement sooner rather than later,” Harris said.
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said University officials had anticipated that contracts would be extended. He said University leaders hope negotiations will resume soon under the moderation of Joseph Dubin, the federal mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service called in by the University two weeks ago.
“We did meet yesterday with the federal mediator, so we’re continuing our discussion with him,” Conroy said. “Our goal is to get back to the bargaining table.”
The two sides have not held negotiating sessions in nearly two weeks and remain far apart on wages, benefits and other noneconomic issues. On Oct. 2, union leaders reduced their wage proposals, hoping to “jump-start” negotiations. University leaders have not offered a counter proposal.
Harris said the unions are prepared to take “some sort of action” if negotiations continue without progress. She said that this action would likely take place Nov. 21.
“We continue to plan to have an event, but the nature of that event has not yet been determined,” Harris said.
On Sept. 4, members of locals 34 and 35 voted overwhelmingly to allow union leaders to call job actions, including strikes. Yale unions have held strikes during seven of the last 10 negotiations. Union and Yale leaders began negotiations this year hoping to change their relationship but have said in recent months that they are discouraged.