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Pair of Yale Unions Approve Contract

September 21, 2003|Diane Scarponi | Associated Press Writer

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Two Yale University labor unions approved new contracts Friday by nearly unanimous votes, ending a three-week strike marked by vocal protests and more than 200 arrests.

Members of Locals 34 and 35 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union planned to return to work Monday.

"It's better than I expected," said Jeremy Walker, a locksmith and member of Local 35. "They got a lot more out of Yale than I thought Yale was going to give them."

The eight-year contract includes annual raises of 3% to 5%, job security and other benefits for 4,000 workers. It also includes a big increase in pensions: 40% on average for workers with 30 years or more on the job.

"These agreements will ensure that Yale has the quality work force it needs to support its critical educational and research missions," university President Richard Levin said in a written statement.

Workers cheered their union leaders and embraced one another after the contract votes were held. Local 34 voted 756-10 to accept the contract. Local 35's vote was 535-11.

"I think that it was worth the time to get the contract, and I'm glad for the people that needed the pensions," said Miles Ingram, a child development research assistant and a member of Local 34.

University leaders said they also were pleased with the deal, the longest ever signed at Yale. The eight-year pact is retroactive to January 2002, when the old contract expired, and runs until January 2010.

Yale sought a longer contract to give the university and the unions time to break the cycle of strikes that has persisted since 1968.

The latest strike prompted several demonstrations and led some professors to hold classes off campus to respect picket lines.

The one union still on strike -- 140 food service workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital -- rejected the hospital's contract offer Friday. Those workers will return to their jobs Tuesday and negotiations will continue.

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