In the first bargaining session after both sides offered new contract proposals last week, Yale and union negotiators made no changes to their respective proposals Tuesday. They will continue their 14th month of bargaining today and will continue reviewing proposals, leaders said.
Last week, Yale leaders proposed contracts that would last 10 years, and union negotiators responded by reducing their positions on wages and pensions two days later. The two sides remain far apart in their proposals, and leaders from both sides said they were disappointed that their proposals had not been accepted.
Local 35 President Bob Proto said he was discouraged that the University did not respond to the unions’ last offer and did not indicate any plans to make a counter-proposal.
“They’re sort of falling into the position they were in last June where a proposal is more like a proclamation,” he said. “If [Tuesday] was a telltale sign, then we’re in for an even longer struggle.”
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the University’s current 10-year contract offer is very attractive, considering the sluggish state of the economy.
“We have no plans at this point to alter our economic proposals,” he said. “Certainly, the University has an outstanding offer on the table that would provide good raises, good pensions and good job security.”
The unions’ most recent proposal asked Yale leaders to bring back labor-management consultant John Stepp of the Washington, D.C.-based firm Restructuring Associates Inc. Stepp mediated the first three months of interest-based bargaining last year before the two sides moved on to economic issues in June.
A group of four Catholic priests from the New Haven area delivered a letter to Yale President Richard Levin’s Woodbridge Hall office on behalf of 23 clergymen Tuesday afternoon. The letter urged Levin to follow Stepp’s recommendations about the unionization efforts of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The Rev. James Richardson of Sacred Heart Church said the priests wrote the letter to Levin because they believe the right to organize is “the same right as you have to breathe.”
“The unions have held together supporting GESO and the hospital workers and vice versa,” he said.
Levin was not available to receive the priests’ letter.
Conroy said the unions have misrepresented Stepp’s suggestions.
“His recommendation is that it would improve labor relations if the two sides could agree on how organizing drives should be conducted,” he said. “But he did not endorse either side’s position.”
Yale and locals 34 and 35 will hold another bargaining session this morning and have scheduled one more meeting for Friday.