New York Times, January 15, 2002
Labor Consultant Criticizes
Yale and Its Unions
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
A consultant that
Yale University and its two major labor unions chose
to study Yale's rancorous labor relations issued a report
yesterday that severely criticized both the university
and the unions.
The consultant, Restructuring
Associates Inc. of Washington, found that employees
said there was a caste system at Yale and that those
not directly involved in an intellectual pursuit were
consigned to an underclass. The consultant added that
Yale was perceived as being anti-union and had a strategy
somewhere between containing the unions and fighting
But the consultant,
which conducted more than 100 interviews, also had harsh
words for the unions, noting that they often defended
the most serious misbehavior and poor performance by
their members. Many of those interviewed said that Yale's
work force was apathetic and that many employees were
malingerers who disappeared for long periods.
called on the university and the two unions representing
Yale's clerical, service, maintenance and technical
workers to change their hostile ways and to develop
a new, cooperative approach to problem-solving. This,
the consultant's report stated, will require a profound
change in the way Yale manages its nonacademic work
force and the way the two unions represent their 3,900
that prides itself on developing critical thinking capabilities
in its undergraduates could reap tremendous benefits
from managing its own employees as if they were capable
of independent thought," the report said.
By publicizing some
jarring statements made by those interviewed, the consultant
appeared to want to shock both sides into changing their
ways. The quotes taken from Yale employees interviewed
"Yale is an elitist
institution with disdain for working people."
"Our union leadership
is lazy and politically insecure. They prefer to hide
in the tall grass and snipe at management."
like children. Is it any wonder that after a while you
begin to behave like a child?"
Yale and the two unions,
Locals 34 and 35 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant
Employees International Union, issued a joint statement
saying that the report reaffirmed much of what the parties
already knew. They said they recognized that the labor-management
relationship at Yale had for decades been "typically
adversarial, unproductive, noisy and not terribly helpful."
Since 1968, there have been seven strikes at Yale, the
most in the Ivy League.
The university and
unions said they "are committed to make this new
process succeed, but it will take patience, understanding
and the support of our entire community."