Natalie Kainz, Contributing Photographer

After nearly 15 months of negotiations, Yale University and two local labor unions have reached a tentative agreement for a five-year labor contract. 

University officials announced on Monday that Yale had reached a tentative labor deal with union representatives from Local 34 and 35 UNITE HERE. The two unions represent Yale’s service, clerical, technical and maintenance workers. The agreement covers more than 5,000 unionized staff members working in research, administrative, clinical, dining hospitality, facilities and plant positions at Yale. The contracts were a point of contention during the “Yale: Respect New Haven” car rally in May, when union members called on Yale not to cut salaries and benefits.

“I am delighted that we have reached tentative agreements with Local 34 and Local 35,” University President Peter Salovey said in a Monday evening statement. “Yale’s strong partnership with our unions has helped the community overcome many challenges, including the unforeseen difficulties brought about by the pandemic. I am deeply grateful for all that we have accomplished together and look forward to the work ahead of us.”

The tentative agreement is subject to ratification by union members, which will take place in October. Ian Dunn, spokesperson for UNITE HERE, told the News that both Locals 34 and 35 are expected to have ratification meetings on Oct. 20, when a majority of the union members must agree to ratify the contract. If ratified, the contract will go into effect in January 2022 and last until 2027. 

“We have reached a tentative agreement with Yale University!” Local 34 posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon. “Together we have fought for and secured the terms of a five-year contract that introduces historic new job security protections while protecting our economics and securing our retirement.”

The University’s press release stated that the 15 months of negotiations were conducted solely through video-conferencing technology. As the sides hashed out the contracts, union members spoke out against preliminary contract offers that they said included salary and benefit cuts. In the May protest over contract negotiations, workers stressed the importance of job stability, healthcare and retirement benefits and increased hiring of New Haven residents. 

University spokesperson Karen Peart referred the News to the press release.

The University and union members worked to “preserve employment for union staff, provide unique COVID-related benefits, return employees to on-campus jobs with new safety procedures, agree on future wages and benefits, and creatively address union interests regarding job security and engagement in light of the accelerated use of technology in the workplace.” 

The press release also stated that more details about the terms of the contract would be available after ratification in October. Dunn said union leaders would not be able to comment on the tentative agreement until then. 
The last time Locals 34 and 35 ratified contracts with Yale was in 2017.

Sai Rayala reports on Yale-New Haven relations. She previously covered climate and environmental efforts in New Haven. Originally from Powell, Ohio, she is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College majoring in History.