Yale Faces Midnight Strike Deadline by Blue-Collar Employees
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Negotiators for Yale University and its maintenance and food service employees union face a midnight deadline for a strike by the blue-collar work force, with little progress reported at the bargaining table.
Today’s negotiations mark the 10th time negotiators have met since talks on a new contract began last month. Union spokesmen reported little progress in sessions Thursday.
Members of Local 35, Federation of University Employees, are seeking wage improvements, limitations to outside contracting and assurances that year- round work will be found for seasonal employees.
″The membership is looking for a good contract,″ said Phillip Voigt, a Local 35 steward and negotiating committee member. ″They’ve seen the achievement that Local 34 has made and they want the same thing.″
Nearly all 1,000 members of the blue-collar union supported the clerical and technical workers’ union, Local 34, when they went on strike for 10 weeks last fall.
Members of Local 34, who ratified their first-ever contract with the university Tuesday, have pledged to return the support if a strike is called.
Neither side would discuss the details of negotiations, but union members who attended a rally outside the building where bargaining is going on said the university has made a minimal wage increase offer.
″What they’re doing right now is forcing a strike,″ said Roy Dulac, a mason. ″They’ll have one if they want it.″
Eileen Lewis, a member of the Local 34 negotiating committee, said, ″We have to do everything we can to let the administration know that if Local 35 doesn’t have a contract, we won’t be coming to work Monday.″
Local 35 President George Conte said the university administration is testing the resolve of the two union locals.
Members of Local 35 last Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to set a strike deadline, but decided to extend it from last Friday, when their contract expired. That was to allow time for settlement of the Local 34 contract last week and for concentrated bargaining on their own contract each day this week.
Local 35 has been on strike four times previously in contract disputes, in 1968, 1971, 1975 and 1977.