Sammy Westfall

After a 28-month-long contract dispute, comprised of over 70 negotiation sessions, Yale University and its campus police union, the Yale Police Benevolent Association, finalized a formal agreement. The collective bargaining agreement was ratified by a vote of 67 to two on Tuesday evening.

“It’s a relief,” said Andrew Matthews, an attorney for the YPBA. “As many people know, it is a tremendous amount of effort that goes into it from the entire team. Both sides did a great job working on behalf of the people they represent.”

After the negotiating teams reached a tentative agreement on a seven-year contract on Oct. 18, the union negotiators brought the agreement to their broader membership for a vote. The vote took place on Tuesday over the course of 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. According to Matthews, two union members were present at all times to monitor the election. Sixty-nine of the 71 union members cast their vote.

Matthews said that the overwhelming voter turnout as well as the high number of ballots cast in support of the agreement reflects the union members’ satisfaction with the deal.

In a joint statement, the two parties said that they were “pleased” with the outcome of the vote. The statement noted that the University’s officers continued to serve the campus community with dedication and professionalism throughout the bargaining process.

“The negotiators for both [sides] worked extremely hard over the course of numerous meetings to resolve issues and make necessary compromises,” the Oct. 30 statement read.

Yale’s police officers will now be among the highest paid officers in the state, according to an Oct. 18 University statement. The finalized agreement includes features designed to improve the daily working relationship between the union and the police department through changes including opportunities for police union input over new policies and a committee on health insurance benefits.

The YPBA held several rallies throughout contract discussion, through which the union sought to bring attention to the state of the negotiations. In April, the YPBA held a rally in front of prospective students during Yale’s admitted students days for the class of 2022. And, in September, the YPBA marched to University President Peter Salovey’s office to deliver a letter asking for his support during negotiations.

In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 30 vote, the union’s negotiating team tried to meet with a majority of the members of the police union to explain the proposed agreement in detail, according to Matthews. The negotiators went through the agreement, proposal by proposal, and held a Q&A period.

Matthews told the News that the negotiation team endorsed the tentative agreement, encouraging the broader union membership to help ratify it.

Matthews added that the University deserves credit for recognizing the risks and sacrifices that its officers make.

“I don’t think you’d find many employers today that would provide such a fair agreement,” Matthews said. “You can see from an employer’s position what they think is deserving of for the job [their employees] perform — and if you look at the YPBA contract, you’ll see that it is extremely fair and reasonable.”

According to the joint statement, members of both parties “look forward” to advancing a collaborative relationship through mechanisms built into the new agreement.

The Yale Police Department was established in 1894.

Sammy Westfall | sammy.westfall@yale.edu