Eight months after the expiration of Yale workers’ union contracts, union and University leaders have not negotiated for the past three weeks and have no more bargaining sessions planned, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said Thursday.
The University and its two largest unions, locals 34 and 35, began negotiations in February. Talks have stalled recently while the two sides met with Joseph Dubin, a federal mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service who Yale hired to help reach a settlement. But Dubin said he will not hold more meetings at this point because it would be “fruitless.”
The two sides remain far apart on wages, benefits and other noneconomic issues. On Oct. 2, union leaders reduced their wage proposals, hoping to reinvigorate negotiations. University leaders have not offered a counterproposal.
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 for locals 34 and 35 are renewed on a monthly basis unless one side notifies the other 15 days before the start of the next month. While in effect, the contracts, which contain “no strike, no lockout” clauses, prohibit job actions such as strikes. The contracts are currently in effect through Nov. 30.
Locals 34 and 35 represent nearly 4,000 clerical, technical, dining hall, service and maintenance workers. Union members have not received annual pay raises because the new contracts have not been settled.
Conroy said the University is still hoping that talks will resume soon with the presence of the mediator, though it remains unclear when that would happen.
“The mediator is still involved and communicating to both sides but as of now, there are no negotiations scheduled,” Conroy said.
Dubin said he has been meeting with both sides but said more meetings would not be productive at this point.
“At some point when the parties are willing to continue making progress, we’ll get back together,” Dubin said.
Local 34 President Laura Smith said the lack of progress in negotiations has been disappointing.
“Our members are very frustrated with the fact that Yale has not responded to our proposals in any meaningful way,” Smith said.
Union spokeswoman Deborah Chernoff said the unions have not heard from the University or Dubin.
“The way that we left it with the mediator and Yale is that they would be willing to sit down and make some proposals,” Chernoff said. “Silence speaks volumes — they’re clearly not ready to do that.”
Chernoff said she thinks both sides must be willing to negotiate for talks to advance.
“Negotiations have to have some built-in flexibility and compromise,” she said.
Union leaders have indicated that they are planning an action or event for the week of Nov. 21 if contract talks remain unproductive. The nature of this event has yet to be determined, they said. Union members authorized leaders to call strikes or other job actions in votes Sept. 4 but job actions are prohibited while the contracts are in effect.