Amid a dispute between Yale’s police union and the administration, Yale Security has begun the first steps of the unionization process without conflict, despite a tumultuous start.
In October, Yale Security narrowly voted 66 to 62 in favor of unionization, but the National Labor Relations Board did not certify the results until Nov. 9 because some votes were contested. Since then, the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America and University administrators have met twice, on March 22 and April 14, to iron out a new contract. Both parties scheduled another meeting for next week. According to representatives from both groups, the two meetings have been reasonably amicable, but no agreement is expected immediately.
The unionization of Yale Security is a response to a series of major changes to the department which began in December 2009 when the University laid off 13 officers amid a reorganization of the department. The layoffs ignited unionization talk, which before was almost nonexistent, said one former high-ranking Yale Security officer, who requested anonymity to avoid retaliation in future employment.
But both the union and the administration said relations between the two sides have become more friendly since the vote passed in October.
“The meetings have been cordial and professional,” Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said. “We have exchanged proposals on a variety of issues and are making progress in several areas, and expect to continue in a positive direction.”
Lindner added that she is not allowed to discuss specifics because the bargaining teams have agreed to keep the discussions confidential.
Tom Hearn, the chief negotiator for the SPFPA, concurred that the talks have begun on a good note.
“Both the sides are obviously committed to reaching a full and equitable agreement for everyone in the Yale community,” Hearn said.
Despite a positive tone, neither Hearn nor Lindner was able to predict when the negotiations would conclude, though they both said they hoped they would do so swiftly.
But Lindner did say that although Yale would prefer a quick round of negotiations, the University prioritizes an agreement that addresses the interests of both parties. Hearn said he was not sure if this could happen quickly.
“If the talks are successful then they will be shorter, but we could hit some snags,” he said.
Two current officers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about their employer, and the former officer, said that the 2009 layoffs led to confusion and organizational problems. Responding to concerns over job safety and departmental organization, University spokesman Tom Conroy said in an October email that, “Yale values [its employees’] expertise and dedication and provides a productive and respectful working environment with excellent salaries and benefits that allow us to attract and retain the best employees.”
In addition to the new contract negotiations with the SPFPA, the University has been in negotiations since February for contract renewal with the Yale Police Department union. Issues with the YPD union have centered on vacation time and rules for promotions.
There are approximately 140 employees in the union bargaining unit, Lindner said.