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Yale Workers OK New Contract—6 Months Early

by Melissa Bailey | Jun 27, 2012 7:10 pm

(73) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Higher Ed

Melissa Bailey Photo Labor peace struck New Haven Wednesday evening as office and blue-collar workers at the city’s largest employer unanimously ratified new four-year contracts.

The surprise ratifications—six months before the expiration of their contracts—took place at kitty-corner meetings in Yale’s Battell Chapel and the First & Summerfield United Methodist Church.

The votes by Locals 34 and 35 of UNITE HERE completed a remarkable turnaround in Yale’s once-turbulent relationship with its workers. The votes paved the way for Yale to avoid political conflict around the construction of two new residential colleges and guaranteed workers ongoing employment in the midst of an ongoing recession.

Blue-collar workers in Local 35 won “unheard of” 14 percent raises over four years; office workers in Local 34 won a 15.35 percent increase plus a $500 bonus for early ratification. Local 35 won a no-layoff clause for four years; Local 34 didn’t.

In return, Yale got concessions in pensions and health care: All new hires will have to enroll in Yale Health Plan instead of Aetna’s plan; and new hires won’t receive Medicare Part B supplemental pay when they retire.

Yale also agreed to “formally establish a jobs pipeline” to connect out-of-work New Haveners to jobs at Yale. In doing so, the university answered a top priority of the new slew of labor-backed aldermen who took office this year. Yale agreed to create a custodian-in-training program and a painter’s apprentice program to help new “pipeline” graduates find long-term jobs.

Local 34 represents 3,500 office workers on campus. Local 35 represents about 1,200 blue-collar employees such as custodians and dining hall workers.

Workers from both camps celebrated with music, balloons and Modern pizza on the Green after the votes.

“We have just ratified one of the best contracts in the nation,” declared Gale Iannone, a founding member of Local 34.

“These agreements recognize the outstanding contribution to Yale’s mission provided by the 4,700 members of Locals 34 and 35 throughout the University,” President Rick Levin said in a 7 p.m. press statement. “The contracts will allow us to continue to attract and retain the talented and dedicated staff who help make Yale one of the world’s greatest universities. We are pleased to extend the cooperative working relationship with our unions that began nearly a decade ago.”

The votes cement President Levin’s legacy of having established a new relationship with Yale’s workers. When he came to office 19 years ago, Yale for decades had had a reputation of having one of the stormiest labor relationships in the country. Yale endured seven strikes in 34 years before coming to a breakthrough agreement in 2003. Both sides reached a peaceful accord in 2009.

Now Levin and union leaders have successfully negotiated two straight contracts without a street fight or a strike.

Unions kept quiet about the breakthrough in the days before the vote. Posters appeared on campus Wednesday promoting the ratification meeting.

Explanations abounded for the agreement.

Addressing his members before the vote, Local 35 President Bob Proto offered two theories.

Theory No. 1: Yale settled because the union has gained political power.

“Right now,” he noted, “we control 20 out of 30 seats on the Board of Aldermen.”

The university is planning to build two new residential colleges.

Proto said Local 35 convinced Yale to start giving Local 35 workers more construction work, on contracts between $200,000 and $1.5 million. The new colleges will be “wall to wall Local 35 workers,” he pledged.

The union achieved its contract “because we showed power by marching, power in politics,” Proto said.

Theory No. 2: Rick Levin—the longest-serving president in Yale’s [modern] history—wants to be sure he leaves behind a legacy of changing labor-management relations.

Proto offered one explanation of why the union settled.

“Years ago, the other unions marched with us. But now,” he cautioned, Yale’s unions are prospering more than their brothers and sisters in other lines of work.

“If Yale put a full-page ad” in the newspaper detailing the terms of workers’ contracts, “what kind of sympathy would we get” from other unions?

The Fine Print

Proto rattled off the wage hikes to come: 3.25 percent the first year, then 3.50, 3.50, and 3.75.

Why the higher number in the final year? The unions wanted a three-year contract, Proto explained. “Yale wanted that fourth year and they had to buy it.”

Proto said the union stood firm on some aspects of health care. Starting with the last contract, he said, Yale wanted workers to take on co-pays, but the union balked. “Once they get their foot in the door,” he said, it’s over.

He was proud to announce Wednesday that “we kept the [Yale] Health Plan 100 percent free.” Workers also secured patient-doctor ratios so that workers don’t have to wait so long to get appointments, he said.

Proto said Yale “tried to totally eliminate” workers’ alternative to the Yale Health Plan, an alternative offered by Aetna.

“We beat ‘em back on the health plan,” he said. In the next contract, “everyone on the Aetna plan stays on that plan.” Some 17 percent of workers in Local 35 are on the Aetna plan, he said.

The union did make concessions. For instance, the employee contribution on the Aetna plan will go up from 8 to 12 percent, Proto said.

And new hires to Yale will have fewer choices. New workers will not be allowed to join the current Aetna plan. And new hires will be required to use the Yale Health Plan for their first three years, after which they’ll be offered a new alternative plan. The same goes for Local 34.

Local 35 gave up other concessions for new employees’ retirement benefits.

Yale currently offers free lifetime retiree medical benefits for workers with 20 years’ service. Under the new contract, new hires will get only 80 percent of those benefits paid for by Yale.

Yale currently pays towards the cost of Medicare Part B for retirees over age 65. It’s called the Medicare Part B supplement. Yale wanted to “take it away,” Proto said. The union settled on a compromise.

“We had to drop that for new hires,” he said.

“Nowhere Can You Get No Layoffs”

Workers agreed to take a voice vote instead of a ballot vote. They issued a cry of unanimous approval and poured out of the church.

“It’s beautiful!” declared one worker.

Lee Mack (pictured), a senior custodian with 18 years on the job, declared himself “happy with the results,” especially the medical benefits and the pay raises.

“Nowhere in the country can you get no layoffs,” noted Local 35’s James Carr.

“We have a strong union,” he said.

A physical plant worker named Al (pictured), who declined to give his last name, said he hadn’t heard the details until he walked into the church Wednesday. He was impressed enough to cast his vote on the spot.

“Tremendous!” he said as he bit into a piece of celebratory pizza. “The wage increases are unheard of. And the job security!”

Even before the new contract, Yale already had “the number one contract in the country” for a university workforce, Proto said. He said that’s based on market comparisons discussed during contract negotiations.

Local 34’s contract mirrors 35’s for the most part, except for a slight difference in wage hikes.

Both unions targeted Yale for using too many casual workers instead of permanent ones.

Yale had 269 contract violations related to using casual workers instead of permanent ones, according to Local 34’s Jess Corbett. The new agreement turns casual positions into permanent jobs. The new jobs will go, in this order, to: laid-off workers, inside hires, and people who come through the city’s jobs pipeline.

People in that “pipeline” will get access to five new apprenticeships at Yale.

Battell Chapel filled with applause as a battery of Local 34-ers announced new benefits, especially the wage hikes.

“Yale has the money, they have always had the money, and they have never wanted to give it to us,” declared one union member. “But guess what? We got it again!”

 

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posted by: Ladybug on June 27, 2012  8:57pm

Congratulations to the Employees and to 34/35!!!

posted by: robn on June 27, 2012  11:01pm

There you have it. Bob Proto blatantly admits in public that his union backed supermajority on the BOA would have extorted deals from Yale by holding up construction. Congratulations voters; you’ve just been had.

posted by: downtown dweller on June 28, 2012  12:13am

This is a terrible development. The Yale unions make Wisconsin bus-drivers look like venture capitalists.

Yale needs more flexibility in being able to fire underperforming staff and reward and promote high-performers.

posted by: HhE on June 28, 2012  1:55am

So much for Yale being an all powerful, all evil institution.

posted by: Threefifths on June 28, 2012  9:10am

To all of the union haters who believe unions are relics of the past that have outlived their usefulness after all, unions only represent about eight percent of today’s workforce,It should be pointed out that organized labor is still the major advocate for the nation’s workforce, not only for union members, but for all workers.I want you union haters to give back the Follwing Benfits that union have won that you union haters who paid no union dues to give up the follwing benfits.The federal minimum wage, workplace safety and health laws, the 40-hour workweek, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid—which benefit all working men and women.    workers compensation, unemployment benefits, discrimination in the workplace, training programs, safety and health issues in the workplace.Give them up now union haters.I bet you will not.How many of you union haters are right now on Family Medical Leave Act or have used Family Medical Leave Act.Won By Unions!!!!

“Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions.  One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”  Molly Ivins

How unions help all workers


By Lawrence Mishel and Matthew Walters | August 26, 2003


http://www.epi.org/publication/briefingpapers_bp143/

P.S. My bad.I forgot union haters are the one’s who are scabs and cross picket lines.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on June 28, 2012  9:16am

Levin’s 19 years are impressive but he has yet to outlast Timothy Dwight, who was president of Yale from 1795 to 1817.

posted by: AvonLady on June 28, 2012  9:54am

Wow.  As robn mentioned, Bob Proto’s remarks are truly disgusting.  If anyone still had any remaining illusions about who your union-backed aldermen are really working for, there you go.

posted by: robn on June 28, 2012  10:01am

3/5,

I have no problem with a group of people collectively bargaining so that they aren’t exploited. I have a big problem with a group of people who hijack a city’s political body to forward their own private interests (whether that group is a corporation or a union).

Case in point, the first budget passed by the union controlled BOA is relatively unchanged from years prior. New Haven citizens still have one of the the largest tax burdens in the nation. The unwillingness to make cuts is blind self-interest.

posted by: HhE on June 28, 2012  10:28am

Well said robn and AvonLady. 

Threefifths, I think some of us who often take issue with unions object to some of the tactics they use, as well as some of the results that ultimately subvert the economic growth that serves to help blue and pink collar workers.  In the past, I have belonged to unions (NEA and Federation), and found them to be of some help.  However, I take issue with job protection programs that allow employees to under perform with impunity. 

Yale has been obliged to sign a contract or be unable to proceed with its plans to grow the university.  In other words, give unionised employees such a good deal, that the union was worried Yale would tell other unions how good a deal it was, so that Yale could create more employment for residents of New Haven. 

Money is not free, so it is a fair bet that outreach programs and other activities that Yale supports to help New Haven residents will have to be cut.  Thanks 34/35.

posted by: trylon on June 28, 2012  10:57am

Yale will continue to thrive and grow.  Most union employees are residents of New Haven and the increased earnings will stay local.  We all win.

posted by: Westville resident on June 28, 2012  12:05pm

“Workers also secured patient-doctor ratios so that workers don’t have to wait so long to get appointments, [Proto] said.”

Good grief! If it takes hard bargaining by a union to get the health plan serving most Yale employees (faculty, union, non-union) adequate numbers of doctors, then many in town (and university employees in other towns) owe them a vote of thanks.

Also, some here seem to overlook that nothing gained by 34 or 35 is coming from New Haven’s budget; it’s coming from Yale’s. In fact, Proto is quoted as saying the union “settled” because the generous terms of this contract, if pushed further, would have caused stress with the [public] union workers (whose pensions, etc. actually do come from the city) and other unionized workers.

It’s the Yale unions’ grandchildren who perhaps won’t thank them. The concessions about new hires are the usual divide-and-conquer and will weaken the unions in the future.

posted by: AvonLady on June 28, 2012  12:24pm

trylon: “Yale will continue to thrive and grow.”

Yale has weathered the financial crisis decently well, but we have had back-to-back years of budget cuts borne almost entirely on the backs of the non-union staff, who experienced significant layoffs, cuts to their benefits, and salary freezes. 

I’m legitimately happy for my union coworkers for this phenomenal deal, but the attitude displayed by some of their leaders is shameful.  “Yale has always had the money”?  I would love for that union leader to tell that to the faces of colleagues who were laid off due to steep budget cuts.  Not exactly endearing others to the cause.

posted by: blackbeauty38 on June 28, 2012  12:50pm

CONGRATULATIONS YALE UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES, ME BEING A HOSPITAL EMPLOYEE I WISH MARNA WOULD AT LEAST GIVE US SOME TYPE OF “COST OF LIVING” INCREASE, WHERE STRUGGLING!I see an hospital employee selling hot-dogs whalley ave. and orchard street after work everyday.SMH

posted by: kathy johnson on June 28, 2012  1:09pm

As an employee of Yale University School of Medicine I would like to thank Dr. Levin President of Yale and Mr. Proto and Ms. Kennington Presidents of local 35 and 34 of Unite Here. This is truly an historical event for both management and union. As a member of local 34 I and many other members worked hard to get our message heard. We spoke from a position of unity and strength and Yale listened. We came away last night with a great contract that was fair to all. This is Democracy at its best. BRAVO to all.

posted by: streever on June 28, 2012  1:31pm

There are several Yale Union affiliated aldermen who owe me a personal apology, unless Bob Proto is insane and just talks nonsense.

““Right now, we control 20 out of 30 seats on the Board of Aldermen,” Proto noted. The university is planning to build two new residential colleges. “Any brick” they want to lay down has to get approval from the new supermajority on the board, Proto said.”

I said during the campaigns that the Aldermen running with several hundred thousand from their Yale Union backers were first & foremost Yale Union representatives, and that they may seek to hijack governance in this city to get their way in their labor dispute.

Several alders objected—some told me it was personally mean and one told me I should be “ashamed” of myself for saying it.

I never thought they’d be so open about it. Is this the transparency we were told was coming?

I don’t disagree with the Yale contracts, or the Unions, in their negotiation sphere, but I absolutely detest, am shocked, and horrified that they’d openly admit that they’d hurt the City of New Haven to get better pension plans for employees who do not even work for the City of New Haven.

That is one of my biggest issues with the DeStefano supporters—the way they abuse their leverage to get their way on unrelated issues.

Having the “controlled Aldermen” (Proto’s words, not mine) quagmire real building projects in our city—potentially leaving us with half-excavated dig sites like Harvard has in Boston—is not something I ever wanted out of our political evolution.

No one who lives in this city wanted to trade 20 “Mayor controlled” aldermen for 20 “union controlled” aldermen.

So disgusting.

posted by: TLO34 on June 28, 2012  1:54pm

Just to be clear, the Contracts signed by Locals 34 and 35 with Yale University were the result of interest based negotiating not threats. We addressed the University’s concerns, and they addressed ours.Both contracts were settled with an eye towards preserving the Union standard for current, past and future employees, and providing the university with some economic relief. There have indeed been changes to the benefit package for people yet to be hired, but in the same breath the opportunities for those same people to be hired, receive training, and advance through the pay grades more quickly, is significantly better than what we have had since 1984. No group has been sold out or forgotten, these contracts were thoughtfully crafted and in reality anyone able to secure a Yale University job will still have the best job in the region.

As for the Board of Alderman, the election results showed that the status quo is no longer being tolerated. If you get so out of touch with your constituency that the people that elected you into office don’t even know who you are, expect the unexpected. A door knocking campaign was undertaken and the people had concerns about crime, jobs, education and a sense of hopelessness. They were given hope, and decided to vote for a change. Were Union members involved in the campaign? Absolutely, many members of Locals 34 and 35 live in New Haven. Did any Union members get elected? Absolutely, and every one was a leader in the Union they belong to. Is a far stretch to believe that a leader that can organize coworkers and raise the expectations of that same group couldn’t do the same in the community in which they live? I would argue that it is a transferable skill-set The end result has been a Board that truly represents their constituents instead of just being a yes Board. Any inferences that one would like to draw from that is entirely on them.

posted by: labrat on June 28, 2012  2:06pm

This is fantastic victory for both the unions and the New Haven Community.  The unions not only won training, advancement, health-care, and wages that all union members will enjoy,  but also great jobs that will go directly to New Haven residents.  The unions and Yale came to settlement because the union and community came together.  I would like to point out that Yale had record fundraising this past year and the endowment has bounced back remarkably well, so Yale has the ability to “do the right thing”.  As far as the ‘concessions’; new members only being offered Yale Health (a phenomenal, comprehensive health-care facility) for the first 3 years was made in the 2009 contract, when the University lost money in the economic downturn. After 3 years, employees can choose to leave the Health Plan for a private insurance option, which is also a great plan.  The new retirement package for new employees is still the best package in the region for retiree benefits.  These changes were made for sustaining our benefits, so that our future members have the ability to retire with dignity.  This contract is about looking forward for the unions, Yale, and the community.

posted by: ellyd on June 28, 2012  2:21pm

But, AvonLady—the university laid off those workers (and implemented the budget)—not the unions. Do you agree that the cuts were unavoidable? Isn’t it making over 20% again on investment? Might the university have had motives other than the recession to reduce staff? Should the university have imposed so much austerity on itself and its employees at such a difficult time? Is it perhaps supporting a rather inflated upper-management class at the expense of the rank and file?

Perhaps there should be another Yale employee union.

posted by: robn on June 28, 2012  2:40pm

TL034,

Sorry but you can’t unring the bell that Bob Proto just rang. He publicly admitted to a conspiracy of using union resources to hijack the governing body of New Haven for the sole purpose of leveraging it against Yale to the benefit of their collective bargaining unit. Its, abusive, undemocratic and simply wrong.

As for the campaign, the Union Coalition didn’t even come to light until late in the election cycle after a news expose by the NHI. For the most part, the campaign was done under cover of darkness, concealing the revenue source and motive. I cry foul.

posted by: HhE on June 28, 2012  2:49pm

Yes, streever, you ought to be ashamed of yourself; for being the moral compass of the NHI comment section, for working so tirelessly to make New Haven better, and for being so insightful.  Shame on me too, because I agree with your comments 99.9% of the time—only you say it better. 

OMG, having read TLO34’s comment, I just learned that unions are just as capable of that predictable, flat, corporate double speak that I thought only came from lawyers and PR departments.

ellyd, Yale has such a large endowment because they follow strict spending rules (unlike the city), invest wisely, and are seen as worthy of significant contributions by well to do people.  Under its spending guidelines, it was obliged to make cuts when the endowment was in decline.  While the endowment is not a true zero sum game, it does share attributes with a ZSG. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_F._Swensen

Threefifths, you are aware that your link you posted in support of unions was written by a pro union think thank?

posted by: Alderman Brian Wingate on June 28, 2012  4:13pm

I’m really proud of the gains we made for New Haven’s working families yesterday, both for those who currently work at Yale and for the New Haven residents who will work at Yale in the future. I was at the membership meeting last night. When I first read the article today, I noticed that Bobby was misquoted as saying “We control 20 of 30 seats on the Board of Aldermen.” I’m glad to see that has now been corrected.

posted by: robn on June 28, 2012  4:28pm

ALDERMAN WINGATE,

Leaning on the NHI to scrub a quote and using your own corporate newspeak doesn’t change the truth. Local 34 used political influence (purchased in the shadows of an aldermanic campaign) as a negotiating tool with Yale.

posted by: Threefifths on June 28, 2012  4:30pm

posted by: robn on June 28, 2012 10:01am

3/5,

I have no problem with a group of people collectively bargaining so that they aren’t exploited. I have a big problem with a group of people who hijack a city’s political body to forward their own private interests (whether that group is a corporation or a union).

But the two party political system does the same thing and you all keep voting them in.In fact they have been doing it for years.Look at the mayor.and how many terms he has been in and may run again

Case in point, the first budget passed by the union controlled BOA is relatively unchanged from years prior. New Haven citizens still have one of the the largest tax burdens in the nation. The unwillingness to make cuts is blind self-interest.

Didn’t non union people vote and help put them in office? So what is your point.

posted by: robn on June 28, 2012  4:55pm

3/5,

3 points

1) Deception. Local 34 kept its involvement in the election very quiet as long as possible and didn’t advertise the coalition or union involvement to the households they visited.

2) Abuse of Resources. Using gobs of union money and access to Yale student and employee databases to target canvassing is wildly asymmetrical for local neighborhood elections.

3) Corruption. Using a public legislative body to forward the interests of a singular collective bargaining unit is just wrong.

posted by: Threefifths on June 28, 2012  4:59pm

posted by: HhE on June 28, 2012 10:28am

However, I take issue with job protection programs that allow employees to under perform with impunity.

This is not true.Union workers don’t have job protection programs.What they have is a right to a fair hearing with a Arbitration hearing and they still can be fired if the Arbitration hearing goes against them.Also non union job workers also have job protection programs.Jamie Dimon chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co had the Shareholders overwhelmingly voted him back onto the board and approving executive compensation packages after he lost $2 billion.


Threefifths, you are aware that your link you posted in support of unions was written by a pro union think thank?

And there are anti-union think tanks.Look at the Koch Brothers.So what is your point.

posted by: streever on June 28, 2012  5:01pm

Alderman Wingate:
Was Mr. Proto “misquoted” or did he say something unflattering that you leaned on the NHI to remove? I’ve not seen Melissa mis-quote many people.

NHI:
I wish you’d make a note about who contacted you/asked you to remove the Proto quote. This is one of several articles I’ve seen concerning the Union-backed alders that received some extra polish. I’m more than a little concerned about the bias.

[Editor: Union officials challenged the quotation. We believe Melissa transcribed the quotation—“Right now, we control 20 out of 30 seats on the Board of Aldermen”—accurately. We did not have an audio record to prove it.

I agreed to give the union the benefit of the doubt and paraphrase the disputed quotation without changing the substance of what was said. In retrospect, I made a bad decision. I’ll try not to make it again.

I think Streever makes a great point. Thanks for the close reading and for calling the question. It’s back in the story.]

posted by: anonymous on June 28, 2012  5:54pm

Labrat: As older employees get raises, more will move out of New Haven. The city will be left with decaying low income neighborhoods, making our economic and social divides even worse than they are now.

Our youth, who mostly live in the city not the suburbs, will become even further marginalized. 

If the Union actually cared about New Haven and its youth, these increases would have gone to homebuyer programs, tuition and residency incentives, not to higher wages to pay for union workers to buy another SUV or larger home.

posted by: downtown dweller on June 28, 2012  7:06pm

Contrary to one poster’s comments, spending from Yale’s endowment is not a zero-sum game. Yale also relies on constant giving from alums and other benefactors to supplement the endowment income and keep it topped up. I’ve been both a Yale student and a Yale employee, and I’ve seen first-hand the damage caused to the institution by mediocre staff who can’t be fired because of their union contracts. I won’t be giving to the university any more now that I know that so much money is spent on overgenerous union contracts, and I think that a lot of other alums will join me. In the short term, Yale’s bought peace from big labor, but in the long term, both it and the union are going to be poorer.

posted by: labrat on June 28, 2012  7:17pm

anonymous: I think that the problems in New Haven are multifaceted and there are many things that need to change; however, New Haven has a lot of wonderful things to offer.  These wonderful things will keep people in New Haven, and the new jobs giving New Haven Residents a leg up are just the start.  I don’t think anyone thinks that this is the solution, just a part of it.  The idea of the the New Haven Jobs Pipeline is to encourage employers to employ the community. The new union contracts help support this pipeline in a real way. 
As far as the money going to more programs for the community instead of to wages: Many of the union members struggle to make ends meet for multiple reasons, sometimes they are the only one in their family with a job and they are supporting their whole family.  They are not making the kinds of money that others in the University make. Everyone should be able to make a decent wage and this contract ensures that more people from the New Haven community will have the opportunity to do just that.

posted by: EastRockIndependent on June 28, 2012  7:24pm

What I like about these contracts (from what I’m hearing) is their effect on the entire city, not just on the members of 34/35. I’ve always felt unions were too much about their own wages and benefits, but with the commitment from the union and the university to the jobs pipeline, I’m seeing something very different take shape here. Will be very curious to see what comes next.

Congratulations, New Haven!

posted by: notty on June 28, 2012  7:24pm

I find it interesting that Melissa who happens to be accurate more times than not in her reporting is now found to be inaccurate. Its just as most of us smart voters thought, its been a union agenda all along. This is not the transparency and democratic way that most labor backed Aldermen spoke about prior to their run. Alderman Wingate why do you feel the need to speak up for Bobby Proto, why couldnt he speak up for his self. Streever I agree with you. In one independent article Alderwoman Tyisha walker she said that they were going to get better contracts for local 34/35.Proto controls the labor backed Aldermen. Is this what new haven voted for, whats the difference between these union Aldermen and the prior King John Adminstration. No difference. This is the union party not the democratic party. The union shaking down Yale. and now the media through Alderman wingate.

posted by: sarsai on June 28, 2012  7:26pm

It always amazes me when I see the way working people are so willing to undermine each other. Many of the comments here do just that. The unions at Yale (and that means all of us members) have no desire to protect our “private interest.” What we want is to see working people get a fair shake, and we are working hard to see that happen in the city of New Haven, home of Yale University. In 2003, after a bitter fight, Yale finally agreed that we needed to work together toward a better workplace culture, to grow labor peace, as President Levin stated. Many on both sides have worked diligently toward that goal, evidence this excellent contract, one that contains language that will make good jobs a reality for more people in the city. In a period that could be referred to as “post-economic crisis,” we are seeing a “jobless recovery,” one in which the rich are getting richer (AND more powerful), and the poor and working class are struggling more and more - in fact, we are under attack. The achievement of this contract is an example of what happens when power is more evenly distributed. It is an example of union power at its finest, an expression of democracy at its finest, where working people come together to make fair claims and bring them to reality. May there be more of the same from one end of this country to another.

posted by: bcrosby on June 28, 2012  7:30pm

Congrats to the workers of Locals 34 and 35 for settling a fantastic contract with the university!  I have to say that I don’t quite understand the level of hostility towards Yale workers in this comments section, especially since I believe that this contract is a substantial net gain for the city as a whole.  For one, many Yale workers already live in the city, so their good jobs mean more homebuyers, a stronger tax base, stronger neighborhoods, etc. all throughout town.  Hardly things to complain about! 

What’s more, I’m really excited to see that the union and the university actually agreed to making the jobs pipeline part of the contract.  As far as I can tell, this should mean that more of Yale’s new hires will actually be New Haveners - that more folks from our neighborhoods will be able to enjoy the sort of wages and benefits that the workers at Yale do.  I’m sure there will be stuff to iron out, especially when city government releases their jobs pipeline proposal, but still, it’s a great start!

posted by: Gabe_Winant on June 28, 2012  7:48pm

Where to begin on this?

1. The labor-backed aldermen ran on a platform of building a community-labor alliance to raise the floor of the labor market for the whole city. Better conditions and wages for such a large portion of the workforce raises standards for everybody—that’s how a labor market works. It’s why when America was 35% union instead of 10%, a much greater share of the country’s wealth went to wages for workers rather than profits for Wall St.

2. The unions made it a sticking point in their negotiations that the university commit to the jobs pipeline program, so local people in need of good jobs can get a shot at them. This is huge. It will mean hundreds of great, union-standard jobs for communities that need them.

3. It’s not like it’s a weird thing for employers *or* workers to get organized and try to elect favorable politicians. This is how politics works. How do you think Social Security happened in the 1930s? Workers in industrial cities formed unions, then put pressure on their elected officials, or replaced them with their own people. How do you think Wall Street (or Yale) gets what it wants except by pressuring politicians? There’s no such thing as an “impartial” politician—that idea is undemocratic. The way democracy works is that different groups get organized and try to convince enough of their fellow voters that their best interest lies in joining together. That’s exactly what happened in New Haven. The Board of Aldermen elections weren’t stolen. (If anything, the reverse was true.) The unions and their allies went door-to-door, talking to people about what kind of city they wanted. People responded by voting in the union-friendly candidates. As far as I’m concerned (for reasons 1 and 2, above), this was the right move. Everywhere else in America, working people are losing ground. This coalition actually gives us a chance to buck the national trend.

4. Yale is wealthier than it has ever been before, and in general, employers are sitting on a huge amount of money. But they’re not hiring anybody. So what we need to do, both locally and nationally, is get people who have good jobs and people who need them together, to put political and economic pressure on employers to restore fairness. That’s happening here. It’s something to be proud of.

posted by: Gabe_Winant on June 28, 2012  8:03pm

1. When unions bargain good wages and benefits in a place like New Haven, they improve standards for everybody, because other employers need to compete. This is why, fifty years ago, when the country was 35% union instead of 10%, a much greater portion of the national wealth went to wages for workers (even at non-union workplaces), and a smaller portion to Wall Street.

2. The unions made it a sticking point in their negotiations with Yale that the university commit to hiring from the New Haven jobs pipeline, so that people in New Haven who need good jobs will have access to them, potentially in the hundreds. That could transform whole communities this city.

3. There’s nothing unseemly about unions supporting candidates for office. This is how politics is *supposed* to work. Groups of people get together and try to convince more people that their interests lie in joining together. This is what the union-backed aldermanic candidates did, and people responded positively. There wasn’t anything illicit about it: they made the case that the unions and the rest of the community shared an interest in having a counterweight to Yale’s otherwise huge power over the local labor and real estate markets. People agreed, for reasons that I think are pretty reasonable (it’s not like New Haven had been doing so great under total Yale dominance), so they voted the union-backed alders in. What’s more, it’s not as though Yale doesn’t try to exercise its own influence on politicians—usually quite effectively.

Besides, this is how all positive change happens. How do you think Social Security got created? Workers organized themselves into unions in the 1930s, then pressured their elected officials, or replaced them, until they did what the workers wanted. There’s no such thing as an “impartial” elected official—the very idea is undemocratic.

4. At the moment, Yale is wealthier than its ever been before, employers in general are sitting on a huge amount of money that they’re choosing not to use to hire people. This is a sort of breach of the social contract, but to get them to make amends, we need to put pressure on them, politically and economically. It’s the only way out of this recession. Change doesn’t just happen on its own, people need to get together to make it happen. That’s going on here, and it’s something be proud of.

posted by: Curious on June 28, 2012  9:12pm

Streever, you’re missing the one hand washing the other.  The Yale unions pushed Yale to create a jobs pipeline for New Haven residents.

That has NO direct benefit to existing union members.  It solely exists for the union-backed aldermen to trumpet (i.e. exploit) when it comes time for re-election.

So not only did they threaten to hold up city business with union-bought political power, they are using union resources to further consolidate that power.

Here’s a thought…has the unions’ intrusion into the public sphere, i.e. BoA, made them susceptible to Freedom of Information requests?  That is, if decisions about New Haven politics are being made at union meetings…which they are…shouldn’t ANYONE, including the press, have the right to attend those meetings now?  Having attended a few Local 34 committee meetings, I would LOVE to see them reported on by the NHI.  Since they are deciding city business in them, I can’t see how the union could keep reporters out.

posted by: Threefifths on June 28, 2012  9:22pm

posted by: robn on June 28, 2012 4:55pm

3/5,

3 points

1) Deception. Local 34 kept its involvement in the election very quiet as long as possible and didn’t advertise the coalition or union involvement to the households they visited.

Show me the proof of this.

2) Abuse of Resources. Using gobs of union money and access to Yale student and employee databases to target canvassing is wildly asymmetrical for local neighborhood elections.

Again were is the proof of this.


3) Corruption. Using a public legislative body to forward the interests of a singular collective bargaining unit is just wrong.

If this is true,How come you don’t file a complaint with the attorney general’s office.

posted by: accountability on June 28, 2012  9:46pm

Wow. Just wow. What a fantastic day for New Haven. The city’s biggest employer and its unions got together and came up with:

-a billion dollar wage package that keeps jobs that are often temporary or low wage in other cities middle class.

-great health care and retirement benefits.

-A commitment to hire bring people from a desperately poor city into those good middle class jobs.

The University says it wants to stop fighting its unions and improve the city’s economy. So it stops fighting its unions for a decade, gets its Vice Presidents directly involved in negotiations and agrees to a deal that improves the city’s economy and opens its doors to people it usually doedoesn’te.

The unions say they want good jobs for their members, to open those jobs to the City’s neighborhoods and that strikes only happen when they’re pushed to the wall. So they work collaboratively with the University and settle two contracts without striking that improve their members’ lives and under which the University agrees to open up their bargaining units through apprenticeships and preferential hiring.

There are words for this:
Commitment
Follow up
Accountability;
Success

If other people in town made commitments, followed upon them and did what they said they were going to do, imagine what a fantastic place this would be.

posted by: Carrie Washington on June 28, 2012  10:18pm

Hello folks - this debate is missing the point.  The inequality in our country is out of control.  CEOs are making millions, even billions.  I have no health insurance because it’s too expensive.  I’ve been trying to get into Yale for years and never get a call back - even though I have a college degree. 

This jobs pipeline has been a long time coming and I’m glad the unions stood up for it.  They may need help to enforce it too because Yale has broken promises in the past.  But at least this once is backed up in an actual contract.  I’ll apply…

and to all the people quibbling over three or four words - do you have health insurance?  i’ll bet you have a job at least.  is New Haven better off before or after this contract - that’s the important question

posted by: accountability on June 28, 2012  10:18pm

Earth to anonymous! The contracts include apprenticeship programs in both unions for New Haven residents. The Local 34 contract includes provisions to transform casual and temp jobs into full time jobs and will give hiring preference for those jobs to graduates of the jobs pipeline program being developed by the Board of Alderman’s working group.

And Yale already has a terrific homebuyer program.

It’s okay to tap out reflexive anti-union grumpiness and gloom and doom forecasts. We all have our prejudices. But try reading the details of the contract first. You might actually feel good for a change.

this is an amazing agreement.

posted by: HhE on June 29, 2012  2:55am

I find it rather tiresome that Threefifths regularly gets away with unfounded accusations, but expects everyone else to prove their case.  Also wearing thin is when Threefifths asks “...So what is your point?” when the argument being made is quite clear. 

In the case of “Threefifths, you are aware that your link you posted in support of unions was written by a pro union think thank?” my point was that you used a link as evidence without the skepticism it was due.  Of course a pro union think tank is going to ascribe to unions a range of social benefits, just as research sponsored by drug companies typically over rates the drug being tested.  I would never listen to what the Koch Brothers had to say, unless it was to know what nefarious plans they had. 

“Case in point, the first budget passed by the union controlled BOA is relatively unchanged from years prior. New Haven citizens still have one of the largest tax burdens in the nation. The unwillingness to make cuts is blind self-interest.
Didn’t non-union people vote and help put them in office? So what is your point.”

I dare say that robn’s point was that the union controlled BOA was not willing to make the painful cuts to the budget to save the city from bankruptcy or reduce the punitive tax burden.  Rather, its focus was forcing Yale to make huge concessions to 34/35 in order to be able to do business in New Haven. 

Finally, methinks you are confusing “wrong” with “illegal.”  While there is some overlap, they are not the same thing.

posted by: HhE on June 29, 2012  2:59am

Editor, if you admit you made a bad choice, than do something about it.  The revised text/quote is so watered down that it does not carry the same weight, and thus meaning, at all.  Strever, notty, and robn are right.  Aussie up.


downtown dweller, I said that the Yale Endowment has attributes of a zero sum game, and your post reinforces my point.  Spending in any given year is one half the spending of the previous year, and an amount determined by the size of the endowment.  This is to protect the wealth of the endowment and to keep budgets fairly stable from year to year.  Now, if people such as yourself, decline to contribute to the endowment, then the endowment loses.  If building two new residential colleges increases the number of donating alumni in the years to come, the endowment wins.  This idea is one I have tried to make clear in the past; Yale cannot just spend money however local people want it to; Yale must always keep an eye to the expectations of the people who sustain it. 


Anonymous, if union members parlay their increase in wages into SUVs and a suburban address, then it means that New Haven is not worth living in.  While my posts have not been very pro union, I think the challenge for this city is to make it a desirable place to live, and not just an acceptable place to live for people with no other choice. 

Enjoy your euphoria 34/35.  Hopefully, time will prove me wrong.

posted by: AvonLady on June 29, 2012  9:39am

eastrockvoter: I take issue with a couple of your points.

1.) It is not, in fact, weird that workers come together to support politicians that will be favorable to them.  That’s how democracy works.  What is weird—by which I mean, a fairly gross distortion of democracy—is having a union leader thump his chest and talk about how “The Union” controls 2/3rds of the Board of Alderman and used that power to force the University’s hand on a labor deal.  Note that he didn’t say “we have a bunch of sympathetic ears” on the board, but more like “we control the board and they had no choice.”  This may have been changed in the article by the time you got around to it, but that doesn’t make it any less true or appalling.

2.) Your last point reinforces my other main issue with all the bloviating about how rich Yale is.  “Yale has always had the money,” “Yale is wealthier than it has ever been before.”  No, it hasn’t, and no, it really isn’t.  The Endowment is currently around $19.4B after a very good return last year, but it is still a long way off from its high of over $22B that it had in 2007 and 2008.  As I said in my previous post, the contraction caused a series of massive cuts to Yale’s budgets over the last three years that are still being felt University-wide.  The idea that the Endowment is just a giant savings account that Yale hoards for no reason is tiresome.

Lastly, I wanted to clear up one other misconception that I’ve seen mentioned in a few other comments (though not yours, eastrockvoter).  Just because someone is not a member of the Yale unions does not automatically mean that they are a middle manager or administrator making $100K+/yr.  This group also consists of a great deal of professional employees, many of them young, who both live in and care about New Haven.

posted by: AvonLady on June 29, 2012  9:42am

One last question for the group: does anyone actually know the residential makeup of the unions?  A few folks have commented on how the majority of union members are New Haven residents, but I haven’t been able to find any information on it.  I suspect it’s nearly impossible for them to track since employees are coming and going all the time.

posted by: streever on June 29, 2012  10:07am

There are so many talking points in here that I think we need to call it the Spin Room.

I love unions, but I hate shadow government and unnamed power.

Neither Hhe (thank you for the lovely compliment! it is mutual), nor Robn, nor myself, nor any other poster is anti-union.

I am for Unions having platforms and those platforms being endorsed by elected officials.

What we’re against—if I may speak for all of us—is “controlled” aldermen, which is apparently what Mr. Proto did say.

Look, an elected official is beholden to their voters.

What else am I against?

- The union controlled Democratic Town Committee voted on officers. At the meeting, I sat behind a local Ward Chair who was asked “Which ones am I voting for?” and was given a sheet in answer listing the union choices. This from people who ran on transparency—transparency is that they decided at a private meeting who to support and then enforced that in the meeting.

- Members of the Board who vote in favor of wealthy developers because the developers have offered them political payback in supporting a good program. The program is good: The way of going about it is NOT good.

- Members of the Board who behave in a way that lets an OUTSIDE AGENCY claim to “control” them.

- Members of the Board who bargain with what should be a CLEAR AND TRANSPARENT PROCESS while secretly threatening Yale. What part of “TRANSPARENCY” is served by Aldermen threatening Yale on the side, covertly or openly?


This is a sham.

This is the opposite of democracy. Yes, it is politics! The Union backed BoA and DTC are VERY good at politics. They understand how to effect change, how to mobilize, and how to push their viewpoint at any cost—including threats open and secret.

This is not democracy. The consternation from a BoA member when I informed them that “Conflict of Interest” does not require corruption shows it—they don’t understand the basic process and procedures to guarantee that their votes are free of influence.

As the other posters show, many people are happy with ends justify the means politicking to get their way.

So be it.

If this is what New Haven wants, this is what New Haven gets. I have a hard time understanding why I should continue being a part of it.

posted by: Threefifths on June 29, 2012  10:48am

Here is the solution to this problem for those who say the unions have control.Proportional Representation and Term LImits.

posted by: HhE on June 29, 2012  11:35am

Threefifths, do you really believe that, or have you been on the term limit & PR bandwagon for so long you do not know how to get off? 

Term limits would address indeviguals in entrenched positions, such as our Mayor, but would not even slow down the 34/35 machine.  Every four years (or however many terms are allowed) it could put up a new canidate to advance their adjenda.  If anything, it would make it harder for voters to figure out who was a machine canidate, and who was not.  (It would also put us in a pickle when Alfreda Edwards, Justin Elecker, and Doug Housen ran out of terms:  it is doubtful that these wards could produce a canidate of their caliber.)

Proportional respresentation is based upon multiple parties.  A handfull of Greens and Republicans aside, all the canidates would be Deocrats, so the end result would be the same. 


Please do not give up on New Have just yet, streever.  If we lose too many people like you, our city really will be in a world of hurt.  I feel your pain, and I often wonder the same thing myself.  The problem with fighting the good fight is one never really wins, one just makes a series of important victories.  Hopefully, in an election cycle or two, the people of New Haven will wake up.  Maybe then we can have an alternative to DeStefino or 34/35.  Maybe we could have a city run by people like you and Mark Abraham.

posted by: TwoWheelsGoodFourWheelsBad on June 29, 2012  12:41pm

I’m so proud of the workers who have struggled over these past few months to win such a strong contract. Organizations like Local 34 and 35 represent some the last remaining hopes for the middle and lower classes in the greater new haven area. Strong contracts like these ensure that working people get an appropriate and equal share in the economic revival in South-Central CT. When the community has a stake in economic prosperity, then society betters itself in the short run, and continues to strive for such in the long run.

This contract not only guarantees that the labors of the working class are duly rewarded, but opens up opportunities for job creation and equality. Despite what conservative pundits may suggest, when working people capture their fair share of wealth jobs are created, and communities are made better.

This moment is but one of the first towards closing the societal gaps that plague the elm city, but it is in moments like these that I proudly call myself a New Haven resident.

posted by: Cristina on Bishop on June 29, 2012  1:43pm

I am proud to live in a city where the workers and management at the largest employer can work together to protect and create more middle class jobs, but prouder still that this contract creates training programs and apprenticeships for local unemployed residents.

I believe that it has taken courage and vision from the union leadership and the members of the Yale Unions & Board of Aldermen to fight for this important piece of our jobs pipeline. Many thanks to you all!

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 29, 2012  4:34pm

I have been following this issue and I admit to being confused.

A private entity, Yale University, and one or more of its employee unions, have agreed to a labor contract. Yes?

Is the problem that publically-elected members of the BOA have a “unholy alliance” with Yale’s unions?

Is this evidence of political corruption?

Ia this akin to the mayor’s former influence over the BOA?

Help me out here.

posted by: streever on June 29, 2012  5:17pm

@Brutus2011

The issue is that Union pres Proto said that he thinks the contract went through because the Yale union has unprecedented political power, “controlling” 20 out of 30 seats, and being capable of stonewalling Yale on construction and all other city initiatives they seek to engage in (according to the NHI—they’ve since removed it, apparently after the union gave them a hard time).

This isn’t just corruption: This is playing serious games with the safety, well-being, and stability of our city in order to get a better employee contract.

I’m a big fan of unions—I’m a big fan of good contracts. I am glad that the unions got a great contract. I’m really, really, really upset, however, that the people who ran for office as “independents” are (apparently) willing to hurt the city they pledged to serve in order to secure better contracts for their friends—who bankrolled their campaigns.

I’m also really upset that so many of my fellow citizens are turning a blind eye to all of this, but what can they do, really? If the choice is just a pawn, you might as well not vote.

[Note: That quotation is back in the story.]

posted by: robn on June 29, 2012  6:34pm

B2011

Exactly.

posted by: Threefifths on June 29, 2012  6:38pm

posted by: HhE on June 29, 2012 11:35am

Threefifths, do you really believe that, or have you been on the term limit & PR bandwagon for so long you do not know how to get off?

Sorry sir.I love how you Engage in self-deception of Two Party System.But the proof is you should get past your deceptions and look at the bandwagon.More and more people want TERM Limits.Case and Point.How many times must the middle-income taxpayer be burned before he votes every current politician out of office? The high-income people won’t vote them out because they are are geting political Patronage. The middle-income people won’t vote them out because they are lock step with the mind set of vote for the lesser of Two evils.No elected official should be in office more than two terms,Look at New York City were they have term limits for the mayor and all city politicians.Tell you what I will Bet you if you put Term LImits and Proportional Represention on the ballot,It would pass.

Proportional respresentation is based upon multiple parties.  A handfull of Greens and Republicans aside, all the canidates would be Deocrats, so the end result would be the same.

Sorry sir more of you self-deception.
Proportional respresentation is based upon electoral system in which the number of seats that each party or group receives is proportional to the votes that it receives.For example, an election ends in a 33% vote for Party A, a 30% vote for Party B, and a 37% vote for Party C, and there were 100 seats in the legislature, 33 would go to Party A, 30 to Party B, and so on. The goal of proportional representation is to more accurately reflect the political inclinations of the population.So tell me how would this sistem make it would make it harder for voters to figure out who was a machine canidate, and who was not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoofxOx-1mM&feature=related

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 29, 2012  6:56pm

to “streever” and “robn”

Thanks. I see now.
I agree but isn’t this kind of malaise permeating our body politic?
If one disagrees or points out the corruption here then one might as well run through the streets yelling, “Aliens!”
They will ignore you until the invasion begins.

posted by: Threefifths on June 29, 2012  8:03pm

@ HhE.

On October 20, 1956, W. E. B. Du Bois delivers this eloquent indictment of US politics while explaining to Nation readers why he won’t vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemns both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation and unaffordable health care.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. –W.E.B. DuBois

posted by: notty on June 29, 2012  9:23pm

Paul thank you so much for standing for what is right, I dont believe melissa mis quoted Bob Proto. Alderman Wingate is the vice president of the union, therefore he and no doubt others used their influence to attempt to shake down the media, just as they did during the Co-Chair races. Many co-chairs were called into meetings with Alderwoman Jackie James and the Reverend Scott Marks and asked to step down from their seats, that is why you saw a number of sitting co chairs drop out of the race. This union is continuing to shake down as many people as possible. Most of these current Aldermen couldnt winn a race without the union support, because they couldnt pay or find enough people in the their wards that would knock on doors for them. I asked for a meeting with one Alderperson and I was told they had to talk to their union organizer before they could meet. Since when d Aldermen have to attend local 34/35 union meetins, and seeing that they are doing this can we use the freedom of information act to make public these meetings they are attending once a month with the unions. Streever I am with you, the voters need to knw the shady things that are going on between the Aldermen and the unions.

posted by: Nashstreeter on June 30, 2012  1:42am

This discussion seems to be full of folks who claim to love unions but hate the fact that the Yale unions got a good deal for their members and won enough aldermanic seats to be able to have some political power. There also seems to be some sense that the Yale employees aren’t working hard enough, or don’t deserve to drive an SUV.

I think that what the Yale unions have won is what we all should demand from our work lives—good wages, fairness in hiring and promotion, grievance procedures and a contract to guarantee that we have a say in the conditions of our employment. And instead of griping about how They Got Theirs, we should be thinking about how we can learn from their tenacity and smarts how We Can Get Ours Too.

Something like 60% of the workers in this country would like to have a union—only about 20% of them do. And I’ll bet that a good portion of that 60% would also like to have a little weight to throw around when it comes to how their employer interacts (to the employer’s benefit) with city and state governments. Just for example, drive around downtown New Haven and admire the chic shops on Chapel Street. Yale is the landlord. Check out all the building construction going on. Yale is enlarging its tax-free footprint. Ask your State Rep or Senator about the PILOT program, which should reimburse New Haven for all the non-taxable real estate it has to endure. It’s not fully funded; they used the money for something else.

Maybe a lot of the commenters can’t easily imagine themselves working for a giant multi-billion-dollar corporation. That kind of workplace—like nearly every other workplace—is the antithesis of democracy. It’s classic feudalism if there’s no union.

If you think unions suck but you claim to love them, go and join one (or organize one) where you work and build it into the kind of organization that would make you proud. The Yale workers have been doing that over many decades, and they have succeeded.

posted by: HhE on June 30, 2012  11:59am

Threfifths, if you are going to apologize, apologize for poor argumentation, completing missing what I said, and attributing things to me that are not true.

Just as I have never belonged to a political party (I might if the Bull Moose Party were still with us:  reform minded, environmentally friendly, careful conservative, and personal responsibility and opportunity), I have never unilaterally objected to term limits.  What I have said is that while term limits would address entrenched elected officials (such as our mayor, who I cannot see the back of soon enough), it would have problems of its own.  Power would shift from elected officials to the entrenched shadow government of super PACs, lobbyists, and bureaucrats.  Another problem with term limits is the learning curve.  Our last three Presidents spent their first two years just learning how to be President, often with very bad results.  In the past, when I challenged you to provide a study from a peer-reviewed journal, you mere gave the example of The Presidency and Mayor of NYC.  I argue that these are relatively unique offices and elections.  A considerable effort is made by both parties to get out the vote in the pivotal Presidential election, and even people in non swing states have an opportunity to express their political views at the national level, so naturally the voter turn out is higher.  It was not until the 1940s that the two-term limit of the Presidency had the rule of law behind it, prior to FDR; the term limit was by tradition.  Likewise, in NYC, the mayoral election is seen as pivotal; even in that very liberal city, Republicans have won repeatedly.  So in elections that are traditionally close and decisive are more likely to have high voter turn out.  Again, I do not belong to either party because I think they are corrupt, and neither party comes close to representing my values. 

On proportional representation, you clearly have missed the point I made.  In the example you gave, you had three parties, A, B, and C.  New Haven effectively has only one party, so proportional representation would elect a BoA that was mostly or entirely Democrats.  Sure, the occasional Green of GOP candidate would have a seat, but in exchange, we would have to dispense with the neighborhood aspect of our wards.

posted by: HhE on June 30, 2012  12:02pm

State wide, proportional representation would probably have a different result, but the total number of Tweedledee and Tweedledum would be about the same, we just might get a Green or Libertarian in as well.  So yes, in that scenario, I see an upside.  Is proportional representation a better way to elect our Congress?  Quite possibly, it certainly would knock gerrymandering on the head – something that I would welcome. 

As for the YouTube link you provided; I used to respect Ralf Nader, but in the last twenty years he has done more harm than good.  I opine that he has lost the plot, and is now tilting at windmills, perhaps for his own ego, or just out of habit.  I did not say that PR would make it harder to distinguish machine candidates from candidates of integrity, I said term limits would.  A constant turn over of Aldermen would make tracking their backgrounds, values, and policies more difficult. 

I imagine many people desire term limits and PR.  That in of itself does not make it a good idea.  Look at how many SUVs are on the road.  Landies aside, is any of them a good idea?  No.  So popular does not equal good.

If you wish to make a compelling argument for either of your two positions, cite a study in a peer reviewed journal, or at least lay out how PR could work in New Haven, the state, and at the national level. 

Brutus2011, streever, and robn, it is great to see my three favorite posters talking.  Take care guys, and keep it coming.

It is also nice to see that the NHI can Aussie Up, and restore the (deeply troubleding and offensive) quote.

posted by: Threefifths on June 30, 2012  11:12pm

posted by: HhE on June 30, 2012 12:02pm

State wide, proportional representation would probably have a different result, but the total number of Tweedledee and Tweedledum would be about the same, we just might get a Green or Libertarian in as well.  So yes, in that scenario, I see an upside.  Is proportional representation a better way to elect our Congress?  Quite possibly, it certainly would knock gerrymandering on the head – something that I would welcome.

I disagree under the Two party winner-take-all system of representation you have the follwing.
Voters’ choices are restricted to candidates within the two-party, Republican/Democratic monopoly;Most legislative elections are effectively no-choice contests in districts dominated by a single party.Case and point there are no Republicans on the BOA here in New Haven.By restricting voters choices and underrepresenting voters winner-take-all elections devalue the right to vote.

I imagine many people desire term limits and PR.  That in of itself does not make it a good idea.  Look at how many SUVs are on the road.  Landies aside, is any of them a good idea?  No.  So popular does not equal good.

The system in place allows for career politicians whose only goal is to serve their own interests. If we placed a limit on terms, it would allow a proper rotation of citizens serving in office as true representatives of the people and reduce the ease of lobbyists to buy favors from politicians.Rememeber comfort breeds inertia. A good politician may be well loved, but when the position is held for too long it can atrophy development and lead to an environment more like a monarchy. Like I said the major of the people want term limits.Prove me wrong.

John Adams said,Without term limits every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey

posted by: Threefifths on June 30, 2012  11:34pm

posted by: HhE on June 30, 2012 12:02pm

If you wish to make a compelling argument for either of your two positions, cite a study in a peer reviewed journal, or at least lay out how PR could work in New Haven, the state, and at the national level.

I give you the following.

Lani Guinier

http://www.amazon.com/Tyranny-Majority-Fundamental-Representative-Democracy/dp/0029131693


Spencer Overton

Most nations of the world avoid extreme partisan gerrymandering by using proportional representation instead of single-member districts. In the January 2005 Iraq elections, for example, the Kurdish parties received about 26% of the nationwide vote, which entitled them to about the same percentage of seats in the national assembly.


http://www.stealingdemocracy.com/facts.cfm


A Brief History of Proportional Representation in the United States
Douglas J. Amy
Department of Politics
Mount Holyoke College


https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/articles/Brief History of PR.htm

posted by: robn on July 1, 2012  7:59am

NASHSTREETER,

The issue is not the deal that was made, the issue is the manner in which it was made. Local 34 and UNITE came under cover of darkness and did blitzkrieg door to door campaigning for aldermanic candidates, and avoided revealing their coalition to prospective voters. They then used the newly attained political influence to extort contract points with Yale.
All very wrong and undemocratic.

posted by: Threefifths on July 1, 2012  10:11am

@HHE

My bad Here is the website.

A Brief History of Proportional Representation in the United States
Douglas J. Amy

Department of Politics
Mount Holyoke College
(An earlier version of this article was previously published as “The Forgotten History of the Single Transferable Vote in the United States,” in Representation 34, number 1 (Winter 1996/7).)

 

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/articles/Brief History of PR.htm

posted by: Threefifths on July 1, 2012  10:25am

My question to all who say the unions con there way in.Why did the major of the people vote them in.

posted by: robn on July 1, 2012  11:53am

3/5

The answer to your question is, because the majority didn’t know what they were voting for.

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on July 1, 2012  3:54pm

I know people on here have wonderfully idealistic notions of how politics ought to be conducted, but there seems to be a large disconnect between those notions and reality.  Do people on here actually believe that Malloy and Blumenthal would have been elected in 2010 if it hadn’t been for the “dark of night” “blitzkrieg” campaigns of the Yale Unions and other unions (and when did Nazi metaphors become civilized discourse on the NHI)? You might not like it, but it’s what kept Connecticut from being attacked by the FAR more aggressive agenda exemplified by Wisconsin’s Scott Walker. While organizations such as ALEC are doing their national back room conferences with state politicians, the left continues to be unable to organize into a purposeful coalition, as power politics apparently offends the liberal sensibilities of those who like progressive ideals only in the abstract (i.e., in Europe, not next door).

At what point in time does the NHI do any reporting on Yale University’s very longstanding “influence” on politics in the city? I think the unions and their allies have been incredibly open and transparent about their notions of coalition and solidarity when compared to the ways Yale has pressured the city. Do people here have any idea of how much global power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of the Yale Corporation? Do people here have any idea what kind of organizing it takes to gain a seat at the table where employees can have some semblance of decision making power at such an institution?

There is a kind of blindness to the “invasion of the public sphere” that manifests itself in things like the streetcar project planned to basically serve Union Station and the Yale Medical Campus. Aldermen like Adam Marchand correctly put down the project, not because the don’t want a streetcar in New Haven, but because it is not the duty of the city to further Yale’s agenda. Rather, a progressive city government should be making sure that people all over the city are benefitting from city services, spreading out the prosperity and evening out the disparities. The Yale Corporation has actively pressured city government to support its agenda for decades, but because they don’t even take the time or effort to come to your door and talk to you, you don’t even know about it. Or care.

posted by: Threefifths on July 1, 2012  9:21pm

posted by: robn on July 1, 2012 11:53am

3/5

The answer to your question is, because the majority didn’t know what they were voting for.

No the answer is most voters are just too lazy or disinterested to learn about the candidates as individuals and rely on the party affiliation as a proxy for actual insight or knowledge of what the candidate is all about.They never vote for the independent, instead they still vote for the two parties.

posted by: anonymous on July 1, 2012  9:42pm

SteveOnAnderson - the Federal Transit grant that the Union-controlled Board shot down would have been used to greatly improve bus service quality - which would primarily have benefited young people and lower income residents who are not members of Unions.

It therefore is a shock that supposedly progressive candidates would vote against transit improvements, when they know full well that transportation is by far the greatest barrier to jobs access particularly for lower-income people.  Ironically, creation of a streetcar or improved bus system, using mostly Federal and State funding, would have also created hundreds if not thousands of permanent Union jobs.

As Union wages have increased, Union workers can now afford cars, whereas the average city resident can not.  Their complete and total lack of concern with the average citizen explains why Marchand, Perez, and other Union-controlled Aldermen voted against the streetcar grant.  I don’t think it is because they were ignorant of the benefits of Federal funding for improved transit and economic development.

Ultimately, this is an example of Union control of the Board will create a divide within our city that is much larger than anything that the Republicans have been able to create.

Their decision to vote against the City’s $30,000 match may have been a small one - but their decision to “save” the city a few hundred dollars in debt service will, in a few years time, be regarded as the most short-sighted and most costly decision in the history of New Haven.

posted by: irony on July 1, 2012  11:53pm

Congratulations! This is a real victory not only for Locals 34 & 35, but for the city as a whole. Through excellent contracts like these, Yale workers are able to buy homes here, spend money into the local economy, raise the standard of living and stabilize thousands of families in our city. But, best of all, because they fought and put their own contracts on the line Local 34 and 35 workers were able to ensure that New Haven residents would also have access to family-sustaining positions in the University through the Jobs Pipeline program. And that’s good for everyone in the city because reducing poverty means reducing crime and violence, it means stabilizing neighborhoods, increasing community cohesion and improving the university’s relationship to its host community. It’s a well-documented phenomenon that inequality leads to unrest, it frays communities and negatively impacts the quality of life for even those on the wealthier end of the spectrum. This is something everyone should be celebrating.

I hope this victory will raise workers’ expectations all across the country. This contract reveals what’s possible when diverse groups of people with a common vision come together and fight like hell. Taking on a multi-national corporation as powerful and wealthy as Yale and coming away with a contract this good is nothing to sneeze at.

posted by: robn on July 2, 2012  8:18am

SOA,

New Haven’s circumstances are quite unlike Wisconsin’s and quite unlike state level politics.

Malloy and Blumenthal were publicly endorsed and supported by CT unions because they believed them to be like minded candidates.

NH unions very quietly assembled and very expensively backed a slate of their own members to take over the New Haven BOA, not revealing their purpose to those they canvassed. Their first two accomplishments? One is to approve a status quo budget, heading NH nearer toward bankruptcy. The other is to enrich union coffers by extorting a deal with Yale.

posted by: Threefifths on July 2, 2012  8:32am

Can someone answer this question.Were was all of the people who are attacking the unions at when the same Two Party System was in the pocket of he mayor and Rubber stamping all the bills the mayor wrote.Also for all of you yale lovers,Ask the people of West Haven.My friends have told me Yale along with UNH are buying up land to build on and people are being force out.

posted by: AvonLady on July 2, 2012  9:04am

To answer my own question above, the Yale Daily News article on the contracts states that around 70% of union staff live outside of New Haven.  Granted, the YDN isn’t exactly the most reliable of news sources, but if that’s true, then Bob Proto’s remarks are even worse.  2/3rds of the BoA controlled by an organization that largely represents out-of-towners.  Fantastic.

posted by: streever on July 2, 2012  9:29am

anonymous:
I think some people only think that the wealthy work at Yale—or that we aren’t doing enough for everyone by taking cars off the road.

Folks, the trolley line was slated for 2 stretches of road not because of Yale, but because the train station & Whitney avenue carry over 30,000 cars a day by DOT counts.

30,000.

Making a dent in 30,000 cars on the road would ABSOLUTELY help everyone in New Haven (2nd worst city for asthma in the nation, disproportionately affecting the poorest).

Unfortunately, by giving blanket approval to the highway expansion called “Downtown Crossing” and killing the starter trolley route (which would have expanded to other neighborhoods), some of these “controlled” aldermen have neglected their first charge: to improve the lives of everyone in New Haven.

Can we get Yale to put in a class on asthma for next semester?

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