The YDN reports on the New Haven Student Fair Share Coalition’s dramatically succesful call-in day yesterday to Bruce Alexander and John DeStefano, urging a fair share settlement between Yale and New Haven with a contribution that would narrow the gap between Yale’s tax value and the PILOT money New Haven receives, a mechanism for indexing that contribution to Yale’s growth, and a commitment from Yale to enter Community Benefits Agreements for future expansion:

About 75 students gathered on Cross Campus throughout the day Monday to call Alexander and DeStefano’s offices and urge progress on talks to increase Yale’s contribution in lieu of taxes to the city. The campaign was organized by the New Haven Student Fair Share Coalition, a group of Yale organizations formed in April that claims there is a $10 million gap between the actual tax value of University property and the payments the city receives in lieu of those taxes…Any change in the status of Yale’s contributions to the city would be the first change since 1990, when the Yale Golf Course was opened to taxation and the University began paying the city for fire services. Yale, like most nonprofits, is exempt from property taxes on its noncommercial buildings. Property taxes are the major source of funding for New Haven, which has faced budgetary problems in recent years. New Haven also receives about 65 percent of the money it would have obtained from taxing Yale through Connecticut’s Payment In Lieu of Taxes program (PILOT).

…Josh Eidelson ’06, a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee (UOC), one of the Fair Share Coalition’s member groups, said that the launch of talks had encouraged the coalition. “The fact that these negotiations are happening now demonstrates the importance of pressure from students and the community in pushing Yale to have a more progressive settlement with New Haven,” Eidelson said. In addition to the UOC, 13 other undergraduate student groups — including The Black Student Alliance at Yale, Movimiento Estudantil Chicano/a de Atzlan, and Jews for Justice — belong to the coalition. Ben Siegel ’07, who is involved with Jews for Justice, said different groups had different motives for joining the coalition. “The highest principle of charity in Jewish tradition is to give in a way that facilitates other people becoming empowered and gaining control of their futures,” Siegel said. “We hope that the University will live up to those principles.” UOC member Helena Herring ’07, who helped organize the phone calls yesterday, said there was a lot of support for the coalition’s ideas. “People have been really receptive and excited by the idea and people who have been coming to make calls have not been inclusive of the member groups,” Herring said. “It shows that there is broad-based support for this.”

Alas, the article makes no mention of the amazing pies Emily Jones baked for the event, which were as tasty as they were symbolic.

Advertisements

The Yale Corporation met this weekend and agreed, in response to a sustained mobilization by community members, and a broad coalition of students, to extend its Homebuyer Program to all of Fair Haven, prompting an official announcement yesterday of the policy shift VP Bruce Alexander promised last month. This is a real victory for light and truth at Yale.

The Corporation also appointed its Senior Fellow, John Pepper of Proctor and Gamble, to replace the Vice President for Finance and Administration seat Bob Culver left over the summer. Let’s hope he makes a better effort to respond constructively to the demands of working people than his predecessor. Replacing Culver as Senior Fellow will be long-time GWB friend Roland Betts.

Meanwhile, tonight at 6:30 PM members of Local 34 and GESO will march out of their membership meetings and converge on Cross Campus for a powerful Human Rights Day action demanding change in the University’s policy towards its female workers. Be there. Barbara Ehrenreich will be.

Yale Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs (currently serving also as VP for Finance and Administration) Bruce Alexander showed up today at a student press conference calling on him and President Levin to extend Yale Homebuyer Program to Fair Haven and thus cease red-lining that poor and predominately Latino community out of Yale’s full benefit package. Alexander committed himself and Levin to push the Corporation to extend the program, a huge victory for our student coalition (the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, the Pan-Ethnic Coalition, Dwight Hall’s Executive Committee, MEChA, Concerned Black Students, Yale Peace, SLAM, and Jews for Justice) and for the broad social movement that been fighting this fight already for years. Now we have to keep the pressure on to follow through, and to keep moving forward for greater justice in this community.

This piece in the AP is right to recognize Yale as a politicized and politicizing campus, but does a pretty sad job of trying to explain this phenomenon – mostly evidenced by the writer’s decision not to interview any undergrads about undergrad activism. The expert cited, instead, is Yale’s Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs, Bruce Alexander, who essentially describes vocal leftist students as cute gadflies who bring some color to the campus by taking potshots at Yale to get attention before gearing up to run for Congress. Must be that liberal media, and that liberal university administration, at it again…

Negotiators from Yale and from HERE Locals 34 and 35 came back to the table again yesterday, over a week after the unions had been hoping Yale would be willing to restart negotiations. As the unions report, Yale showed little change of heart:

Negotiations with Yale resumed Tuesday afternoon at the Omni Hotel. Despite headlines about Yale’s “new faces” at the bargaining table (after the recent departure of several key administrators), there were no new faces to be seen on Yale’s team. Neither were there any major new proposals from Yale. This was not unexpected for our first session back at the bargaining table but, on behalf of our negotiating committees, Local 35 President Bob Proto made our intentions clear: we are ready to meet all day, every day of the week and all night, if necessary to achieve a fair contract. To make that work, however, Yale must be prepared to engage in the real give-and-take of actual negotiation and compromise on wages, pensions, job security and training and advancement.

While Yale had no serious new proposals for us yesterday, Chief Negotiator Brian Tunney reiterated his assertion that Yale is “prepared to move on pensions, wages and retroactivity.” While that may sound promising, we have heard those words too often before without any actual results. As Local 34 President Laura Smith responded, “It’s time to stop preparing to move and start actually moving.”

…Despite the reference to retroactivity, Tunney was quick to say that what he meant by retroactivity was actually a discussion of a “signing bonus”–a far cry from the full retroactivity that Yale should agree to after we accepted their first-year wage proposal. Tunney also confirmed that when the newly-renovated Sprague Hall reopens next week, the building will be cleaned and serviced by low-wage subcontracted workers, not by Local 35…Yale’s one “new proposal” was a suggestion that Local 34 workers who are laid off due to subcontracting to a Yale affiliate (like YNHH) be given an “extra” three months in the Interim Employment Pool–hardly reassuring in light of the enormous potential, particularly in the Medical Area, for shifting University to Hospital work…

As the AP reports:

Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said it is impossible to know whether a deal would be reached. “We’re always hopeful, but certainly we’re far apart and they have some unrealistic proposals,” Conroy said.

Union spokeswoman Deborah Chernoff said the unions are waiting for Yale to come forward with new proposals for wages and pensions. “We’re prepared to meet every day. We’re prepared to meet all day, and we’re prepared to meet on the weekends, but we have to have something to talk about,” she said.

Meanwhile, as the Register reports, Mayor DeStefano is also keen to the irony of Bruce Alexander serving, in the wake of Bob Culver’s departure, as Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and for Finance and Administration at once:

DeStefano said Alexander “potentially is going to be serving the community agenda at the same time they are presiding over the biggest walkout and longest walkout of Yale workers in over a decade.” He feels this presents an “inherent conflict. Why run the risk of confusing the agendas?”

Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky responded that the assignment is a temporary one for Alexander who was named to the post because “Bruce is the officer with business and financial expertise.”

As YaleInsider observes, “If there were ever any doubt about the ultimate reason for Yale’s VP position for community relations, created in the wake of the 1996 strike, let that doubt be dispelled.”

In this week’s New Haven Advocate, Paul Bass brings home the irony of Yale’s ONHSA- (Office of New Haven and State Affairs)sponsored picket of the Board of Aldermen against Naclerio’s (triumphant) resolution calling on Yale to pay its share in taxes to the city:

Yale’s managers were fired up. They couldn’t take no more. They sent a message to their compadres at the Chamber of Commerce calling for help. Dozens took to the streets. They brought signs. They massed in front of New Haven’s City Hall last week. And they marched.
What brought them out to protest?

New Haven’s high poverty?

The state of the schools?

A broken criminal justice system?

Nope. The managers and their comrades picketed on the evening of July 7 to protest New Haven government for being unfair to … Yale.

Another highlight of the article:

Last week’s events signaled “a cultural shift” at that office, observes Julio Gonzalez, executive assistant to Mayor John DeStefano and a Yale alum. “This has nothing to do with their mission. This is definitely different from what they’ve done in the past. Now it’s a lobbying arm.”

Bruce Alexander, a Yale vice president who heads the Office of New Haven & State Affairs, responds that the demonstration fits into the office’s mission: “to inform the community, out of a sense of respect for their opinion, of the facts, and not let those who seek to discredit us for their own narrow agenda define us in the community.”

Anyone who wants to check out Yale’s spin on the facts first-hand, visit Yale’s Office of Public Affairs here. Among their latest work: an ad “congratulating a list of employees who’d reached 25, 30, 35, 40, or 45 years of service at Yale and trumpeting Yale’s record as an employer. 47 of the employees honored on the list wrote back to the papers that had printed it:

We are proud to have been honored recently for our many years of service working at Yale University, but we were surprised to see our names in the Yale advertisement published by the Register claiming that Yale provides “strong job security, good wages, and excellent benefits.” We do not believe this to be true.

Throughout our years of working at Yale, we have fought and struggled with Yale’s administration to force them to provide what little they do give us. Nevertheless, our wages are still too low, we still face retirement into poverty, and Yale is still threatening the future security of our jobs.

A constant stream of misleading ads isn’t going to change this. It’s only going to change when Yale decides to treat us, and all its employees, with respect.

The most telling part of Bruce Alexander’s quote, however, would have to be the accusation that the unions have a “narrow agenda” – meaning perhaps that they value their workers’ wages over, say, Bruce Alexander’s. See less than a year ago, President Richard Levin wrote me and the rest of a student body a letter about his fear that the unions had “a broader agenda” – meaning that those thugs not only wanted good wages and benefits, but also wanted their neighbors in Fair Haven to be able to get jobs at Yale, their children to be able to attend adequately-funded schools, and their fellow workers to be able to organize. Maybe the polite thing would be for Yale’s leadership just to dictate to Union leadership at the negotiating table the precise acceptable breadth of their agenda, so as to avoid this Goldilock’s problem we seem to be having. But first they would have to come to the negotiating table…