Yale Calls for Federal Mediator in Labor Talks
Yale University today informed its unions that it has asked the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to join the negotiations in an effort to help the parties achieve new contract agreements.
Under mediation, a neutral third party tries to facilitate a complete and final agreement between management and labor. Federal mediators have been involved in past negotiations at Yale. Subject to their availability, the University has proposed that daily negotiations assisted by mediators begin next week and continue until an agreement is reached.
The University has taken this step in its ongoing attempt to achieve new contracts with Locals 34 and 35 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees. The locals represent 4,000 employees in Yale’s Clerical and Technical, and Service and Maintenance units.
The unions and the University began negotiations on February 13, 2002, and about 80 bargaining meetings have been held. The parties entered negotiations on economic issues, including wages and pensions, in early June. Since that time, there have been 14 bargaining sessions producing virtually no progress on dozens of economic issues.
“We hope that mediation can bring about movement in our negotiations toward a settlement,” said Brian J. Tunney, the University’s Director of Labor Relations and chief negotiator. “The unions’ proposal of yesterday contained only a minor wage adjustment to their last proposal, made on June 19, and they have left unchanged scores of other economic proposals that, along with their wage proposal, would cost $60 million alone in the first year of a contract. Just as troubling is their demand that the organization of Yale New-Haven Hospital employees and graduate student teachers at Yale be resolved as part of negotiations for our employees in Locals 34 and 35.”
Yale has proposed across-the-board raises of four percent a year for Local 34 and three percent a year for Local 35 in six-year contracts. Those raises and other changes in the salary structure would give Local 34 employees a cumulative average increase of 42 percent and Local 35 workers a cumulative average increase of 22 percent. Local 34 has proposed a nine percent wage increase for clerical and technical employees in each year of a four-year contract. Local 35 has proposed a six percent increase for service and maintenance workers in each year of four-year contract.
Tunney cited the unions’ focus on other organizing drives and its campaign of anti-University rhetoric as a distraction from the bargaining table.
“Yale’s employees are being denied the substantial wage, pension and benefit enhancements we have proposed,” Tunney said. “We are hopeful that mediation will help bring the focus back to the bargaining table. We are prepared to do everything that is reasonable and fair to bring about timely resolution to these negotiations.”