Sophie Sonnenfeld, Contributing Photographer

Following eight months of negotiating, the labor union representing Yale Security officers voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new five-year contract with the University on Friday.

Members of the Yale University Security Officers Association streamed into a conference room at 25 Science Park on Friday to cast their ballots for the contract. The University and the union had reached the five-year agreement on Feb. 7, University spokesperson Karen Peart told the News. According to Peart, compensation was the central theme of the negotiations

The labor agreement includes employees’ first ever 10-year pay scale, wage raises across the board and new due process rights for officers being investigated under complaints. Union leaders at the ratification vote described the contract as “historic.” 

“I didn’t think they were gonna go this high,” said YUSOA President Bob Corso. “But I think they realized that we were underpaid for years. And they made it right.  They started taking care of us the way we should have been taken care of.”

Yale Security officers, who YUSOA general counsel Andrew Matthews and Corso described as the lowest-paid workers in the University, will now receive starting wages of $21.75 per hour, an increase from the previous hourly wage of $18.50. Workers’ wages will rise on a nine-step yearly scale after the first year of employment.

According to Matthews, negotiations began in June, proceeding with mutual respect between the University and union. He emphasized the importance of the University recognizing that “people need to be able to take care of their families” during the negotiation process.

Peart, who has told the News in the past that the University takes an “interest-based” approach to bargaining, agreed that the contract “would include significant improvements to staff compensation.”

In addition to increased wages, the contract includes sweeping changes to the investigative process for complaints regarding officers. According to Matthews, investigative bodies must now give an officer a copy of any complaint made against them. The contract also explicitly states that these officers have the right to union representation throughout investigations, although such representation is already required by law.

Corso added that having a recognized union for the past 12 years has forced the University to respect Yale Security officers. Corso, who has worked with Yale Security since 1999, discussed the lack of dignity workers received before the YUSOA was organized in 2011. 

“We’re always considered like the red-headed stepchild of the University,” Corso said. “We just didn’t get paid.”

YUSOA is one of five unions with contracts at Yale. Like the Yale Police Benevolent Association, the union is independent of any parent organization. Corso told the News that he felt the other unions were behind them “100 percent” throughout the negotiation process.

Matthews, who also represents YPBA, said that the union looks to push the University toward improving the multiplier for pension calculations, which could make retirement more affordable for many workers. 

“We’re going to spend the next five years getting ready to do the next one, because we really believe that people have to be able to afford to live on their pension to survive,” Matthews said. “We live in Connecticut, one of the most expensive states in the country.”

YUSOA’s previous contract was ratified in May 2019 and expired on Jan. 20, 2023. 

Megan Vaz is the former city desk editor. She previously covered Yale-New Haven relations and Yale unions, additionally serving as an audience desk staffer.
Hannah Kotler covers Cops & Courts and Transportation for the City desk. She is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles majoring in Ethics, Politics, Economics.