Three months ago, newly-appointed Yale Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper told the Cincinnati Post:

At this point in my life, I feel like I can contribute to a team and an institution that in many ways is like Procter & Gamble.

The Yale community got a better sense of just what that means when Pepper announced (Monday’s YDN still not on-line) the lay-offs of a hundred Yale clerical and technical and managing and professional employees. Yesterday, members of the Yale community came together to protest the University’s breach of faith and call for a better vision of the University:

“We will not let John Pepper strip away all that Yale can and will be in this community under the guise of some fabricated budget deficit,” [Laura] Smith said. “With or without you, John Pepper, we will build a future for Yale that we will all be proud of.”

…Smith called forward approximately 20 laid-off workers to take the stage at the rally. “It’s difficult to go out and start a new career,” Stanley Kobylanski, a 52-year-old laid-off telecommunications worker, said. “I’d like Yale to rescind the layoffs. Our major concern is the battle we wage with subcontracting and outsourcing our work.”
Pepper’s response:

“I believe in dialogue on these subjects,” Pepper said. “Unions are important organizing units and should be respected as such. But we are all part of the Yale family.”

Unfortunately, Pepper is yet to translate his stated belief in dialogue in real partnership with Yale’s workers of the sort John Stepp called for in the RAI Report. Meanwhile, despite what Wal-Mart and other union-busting firms may tell you, paternalism does not a family make.


Yale President Levin recently sent out another letter to the Yale community. There’s little new there – Levin has an old habit of borrowing not only ideas but phrases and even sentences him old speeches (this is part of what made reading his book this summer such a dull experience). Rather than putting together a line-by-line critique, at this point I’ll just suggest places to look for refutations of various parts of his argument:

FHUE on Pensions
YaleInsider on Job security
FHUE on Local 34 wages and benefits in comparative perspective
UOC critique of Culver’s similar March letter
FHUE on their proposal of last Tuesday, on Yale’s response, and on rolling advance threats by Yale

I should add that Levin repeats here the same disingenous, paternalistic message on retroactivity espoused in his explanation at a Master’s Tea in the spring that retroactivity was taken off the table because he doesn’t “believe in rewarding bad behavior”:

In the spring of 2002 the University offered to make salary increases fully retroactive if negotiations were completed by June 30, 2002. We also indicated at the time that if the deadline passed, we would not subsequently offer full retroactivity. Instead, we are offering an immediate bonus of $1,500 when contracts are signed to all workers who were employed when the previous contracts expired in January 2002. More recently hired workers would receive $500.

This offer is consistent with the agreement reached between Yale and the unions in 1996, when all employees received a $500 signing bonus eleven months after the expiration of contracts. We did not offer full retroactivity in 1996 for the same reason that it would be imprudent to do so now: to suggest that there are no consequences to extending contract negotiations far longer than necessary would only encourage protracted bargaining when the next contracts expire.

Never mind that (as Zach has pointed out), taking retroactivity off the table gives Yale an incentive to drag out negotiations, while leaving it on the table gives the unions no incentive to do so. I’d say the remarks above – from the President of the University – demonstrate exactly the attitude towards working people (former Reagan Administration Labor Department Staffer) John Stepp described in his RAI Report – a few months before Yale fired him:

Repeatedly in the assessment interviews, union members expressed their loyalty to the Yale institution. They understand their role as suppliers to, and enablers of, academic life at Yale. Unfortunately, existing management systems, policies and practices have marginalized their services, disincenting and often preventing them from contributing to Yale’s growth and improvement.

“Yale is an elitist institution with disdain for working people.”
“Yale’s ethos of excellence stops at the academic door.”
“I want to scream, ‘This is what I do, ask me! I can help you do it better!'”
“There is very little vertical mixing. Inclusivity, involvement, democracy are foreign to worklife at Yale.”
“Collaborative decision-making, even its mildest form, would be met with an uproar.”