The most telling moment in Paul Bass’ latest follow-up on the Yale strike is his account of Levin’s attempt to field his question:

The road to a settlement proved that strikes do work. At least at Yale. Levin insists the two sides could have come to this agreement without a strike.

“Had we been able to sit down” sooner in a “small group” holding serious negotiations, the deal would have come sooner, he says.

But for a good year before the strike, union leaders argued that Levin, or another high-ranking administrator, needed to appear at negotiations for real progress. Levin denied it. Then, on the eve of the strike, he showed up at the table–and kept returning over 23 days, helping to crunch numbers and work toward compromise.

Asked whether he would have shown up without a strike, Levin at first offered pause and no answer. Then he said, “At the right time and place, I would have been there.” But before the strike, he denied repeated requests to do just that.

Actually, at a Master’s Tea in March, he told a group of undergraduates I was in that calling on him to come to the table was ridiculous. Once more, here’s hoping next time Yale’s leadership has an easier time recognizing the real interests of this University – and their resonance with the interests of this community.

Tonight will be the second night the wall of shame Yale retirees set up across from President Levin’s office in a ceremony yesterday will continue standing on Woodbridge. The wall shares the names, years of service, and pension statistics of retirees, including Shirley Lawrence’s mother, who put in decades of service at Yale only to have the University buy out her housing as part of its expansion and gentrification process, leaving her with an unlivable pension and without a home. Shirley has worked at Yale for years and is now an organizer for Local 35; she spoke at our teach-in on Friday and at a moving forum with Yale Union Women held tonight at the Women’s Center. Every member of this community should take the time to stop by the wall and talk to the men and women holding a vigil there – including my peer who wrote, in an article on David Horowitz’s website earlier this week:

A Yale sophomore argued (somewhat unintelligibly) in the Yale Daily News that “To defend a pension plan which left the average Yale retiree of 2000 with a $609 per month pension while proposing to offer Levin a $42,000 monthly pension and investing the rest of the fund is indefensible.” Yet the unions hold out as their examples “victims” who, having worked at Yale less than 30 years, are not long-term workers and, as such, have no right to the full retirement package provided under the current contract.

The full retirement package, unfortunately, isn’t much to brag about either. But don’t take it from me – take it from the intelligible, reputable, and often viciously anti-union YDN editorial board, which acknowleged it in an otherwise unsurprising editorial at the beginning of the strike, or from Richard Levin himself, who begrudgingly agreed the pensions needed improvement after some of the men and women standing across from his office now took over the Investment Office. Better to hear about it from those folks themselves though. And if you ask nicely, they’ll also teach you how to knit.

Yet again, behind the rhetoric of partnership Yale’s leadership demonstrates a vision of crass division and stable inequality:

A group of ministers accused Yale University on Tuesday of bringing Latino workers to the campus as strikebreakers to cause racial dissension among picketing maintenance workers.

Two area cleaning firms delivered 40 to 50 Latinos to the Old Campus on Monday, and “paraded” them through a picket line of mainly African-American strikers in Local 35, according to the Rev. Emilio Hernandez.

Hernandez said less than 5 percent of Yale’s workers are Latino, even though they make up 20 percent of the New Haven population. He said the ministers want to increase the presence of Latinos at Yale, but not as strikebreakers, and he accused Yale of trying to arouse racial confrontation.

The ministers said several clergy tried to talk to the workers on Monday, but were asked by police to leave.

Dan Smokler of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy, which works closely with the strikers, said Tuesday members followed buses with workers from a company in West Haven to a parking lot in the city’s Fair Haven section, where they were transferred to Yale vans and brought to several of Yale’s residential colleges under security escort. He said the workers were told not to talk with the center’s volunteers or they would lose their jobs…

Julie Gonzales, a junior at Yale’s Silliman College, said she was particularly offended by the hirings. “To see my university use these kinds of divisive tactics is like a kick in the stomach. A university that is committed to diversity should bring people together, rather than trying to break a strike,” Gonzales said.

This is the same strategy ONHSA ally Boise Kimber used in telling Ward 6 voters that Delores Colon represented the Latino threat to Blacks in New Haven. She won that race yesterday.

This is the same thinking that convinced Bartlett Giamatti in the early 80’s that Yale’s predominately Black male service and maintenance workers and Yale’s predominately White female clerical and technical workers would never go on strike together.

This is the grand strategy that Yale has been depending on to crush the unions in this fight – the conviction that once the situation got intense, a coaltion of thousands of clerical, technical, maintenance, and service workers, teaching assistants and researchers, students, faculty, clergy, and community members would fracture quickly. So far, looks like Yale’s leadership has a lot to learn.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is releasing a letter to President Levin condemning Yale’s behavior today.

Looks like Aldermen Mae Ola Riddick, Hazellann Woodall, and Lindy Lee Gold, all of whom received significant support from Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs in exchange for consistent opposition to the movement to bring together the New Haven community to demand real partnership with Yale, have all lost in primaries today. This is good news for New Haven, and in the long term for Yale as well. This is bad news for Alexander, Morand, and Levin.

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.”

Back from an amazing couple days hearing from and meeting with the Reverend Jim Lawson – and others involved in Yale’s intensifying labor fight – in New Haven. As Lawson preached, “President Levin, it’s time to grow up and become a human being.” Meanwhile, Yale is touting it’s new contract offer, two major highlights of which are offers to partially undo decisions to worsen their proposals since the beginning of negotiations – in other words, when Helaine Klasky says that Yale has “improved our already generous offer in the hopes that this will be the foundation for a settlement,” she must mean that Yale’s new “generous offer” is an improvement on its “already generous offer” insofar as it is more like Yale’s original “generous offer” than Yale’s recent “already generous offer.” Confusing? By design more than by accident I think. The unions have been calling from the beginning for a 4-year contract, and Yale was calling for a 6-year contract until March, when Levin, after the week-long strike, decided that the best compromise between 4 year and 6 years would be 10 years (must be Yale math…). Yale’s new-and-improved offer as of this week? An 8 year contract. In a similar vein, Yale came into negotiations nearly two years ago with a commitment to retroactive pay – annual raises for the period during which the contract was expired and was being renegotiated – after signing. After a year, Yale revoked its agreement to retroactive pay. When confronted about that decision by students, President Levin responded in top form that he doesn’t “believe in rewarding bad behavior.” Yale’s new and improved offer? A “signing bonus” that would represent the equivalent of at most 40% of retroactivity for some workers, and much less for others. The last major pieces of Yale’s new offer – and the only ones that represents an improvement over Yale’s paltry offer of nearly two years back – were a slight increase in its second year wage proposal and an increase in its pension offer, which the unions matched in their counter-proposal by reducing their proposed pension multiplier from 2.1 to 1.95%, a decrease in their pension offer seven times the increase in Yale’s. These three components, together, represent the additional $9 million which Yale announced in June it had budgeted for the contracts and was going to be offering – at that time, Yale’s negotiators also said that as far as they were concerned, that was the sum for the contracts and they weren’t prepared to negotiate beyond there. FHUE has a more extensive brekdown here. It’s good to see Yale making movement at the table. But if the administration wants to avert a strike ten days from now, they have much more work ahead of them – and not in the form of glossy ads or Orwellian pickets.

Thanks to YaleInsider for the intrepid blogging, and for the new link to this “Little Wild Fair and Balanced Bouquet” on the revamped site.

When I first talked to Bob in 2001 about his leaving the corporate sector to come to Yale, he expressed the concern that if his family preferred to remain in Boston, the weekly commute might take its toll, and, unfortunately, this has proven to be the case. In Bob’s two years here, we have benefited from his attention to improving our business practices and his warm and genuine embrace of the institution and its values.

President Levin’s previously-discussed letter announcing the abrupt end of Bob Culver’s time as Yale Vice President for Administration and Finance is here. It’s an open question whether the reference to “embrace of the institution and its values” includes telling workers that money for training them for more advanced jobs was “money down the drain.” What “improving our business practices” has wrought will – barring an administative change of heart – be dramatically proven yet again on August 27

YaleInsider takes a critical look at the New Haven Advocate’s annual round-up of salaries for non-profit employees in the area. Among several interesting statistics – like Yale’s Chief Investment Officer making two and half times as much as its Provost, and President Levin making over one and half times as much as President Bush (that’s over twenty times as much as the average union worker at Yale) – is a gem from Yale – New Haven Hospital Spokesperson Katie Krauss, trying to explain why the Hospital’s CEO, Joe Zaccagnino (who Yale U. named Alum of the Year last month after he and his hospital were caught defrauding the poor and sick to save money), had taken a $70,000 pay cut:

Hospital spokeswoman Katie Krauss says executive pay fluctuates because it’s based on a complex formula of “variable” components … “This is a big place. It’s not a community hospital,” she says. Zaccagnino heads not just Yale-New Haven Hospital, but a network that includes Bridgeport and Greenwich hospitals–a group with a combined budget of more than $1.1 billion and 10,000 employees.

As YaleInsider says:

OK, good to know they don’t consider Yale-New Haven Hospital to be “a community hospital”. Perhaps this means they’ll simplify and shorten their name to “Yale Hospital”?

Given that Levin sits on and appoints a third of the Hospital’s Board, that a quarter of Yale’s income is funnelled through the Hospital and that Local 34 and GESO employees work side by side with (as yet ununionized) Hospital Employees doing the same work, might not be a bad idea.

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…

Researchers with Yale’s unions have just completed a new report on systematic insider trading at the University. It’ll be interesting to see what Public Affairs comes up with as this story develops…I’m betting on “The Unions need to focus more on the bargaining table,” and “Yale is a non-profit institution, so how can we be accused of trying to make money?” Here’s how Conroy handled the San Jose Mercury News:

Thomas Conroy, Yale’s deputy director of public affairs, confirmed Baker’s involvement. However, he said Baker’s role was disclosed to the other members of the investment committee at the time and dismissed the report as contract-time politics. “This is how they negotiate,” he said.

Conroy, Levin, Culver and others might be better positioned to know how the unions negotiate had they shown up at the negotiating table…

From the report:

The IRS Form 990, a public document that must be filed by Yale University, asks:

Schedule A, Part III
2. During the year, has the organization, either directly or indirectly, engaged in any of the following acts with any of its trustees, directors, officers, creators, key employees, or members of their families, or with any taxable organization with which any such person is affiliated as an officer, director, trustee, majority owner, or principal beneficiary?
(a) Sale, exchange, or leasing of property?
(c) Furnishing of goods, services, or facilities?
(e) Transfer of any part of its income or assets?
If the answer to any question is “Yes”, attach a detailed statement explaining the transactions

Yale has opted not to answer the question, marking neither “yes” nor “no” on its IRS Form 990 filed for every fiscal year from 1990 to 2000 (the most recent submitted). Instead, Yale has attached the following statement in lieu of answering the questions:

Other than the payment of reasonable and not excessive compensation and/or reimbursement of expenses for principal officers and trustees, this institution knows of no significant transaction between it and any such person or any corporation with which any such person is affiliated other than transactions in the normal conduct of its activities. All such transactions are conducted at arm’s length and for good and sufficient consideration. (Yale University, IRS 990, Year 2000 Schedule A, Part III, Line 2, Statement 16)

Yale’s statement fails to offer reassurance that individual transactions are legal and have not provided trustees with excess benefit. As one tax law training manual explains about this section of the Form 990:

While the lines covering the particular transaction in question in such cases would be answered “yes,” their “innocent” nature would be explained in the attachment that, as noted, is to be made for any question answered “yes.” … Indeed, if the filer answers any of the lines 2a through 2e “yes” and does not attach a statement explaining the transaction, a reader might suppose that the filer was not disclosing aspects of the transaction that it believed would embarrass it.[6]

Putting aside all other considerations, full disclosure is always the best and strongest defense against the charge of inappropriate self-dealing.

Yale’s refusal to disclose the interested transactions outlined in this report presents cause for concern.