Though memories of the crippling 1984 strike of clerical and service workers abound and union officials warn that a strike is "always likely," Yale University administrators yesterday said they are optimistic about the union negotiations slated to begin on Tuesday.
This will be the first time the union and university meet at the bargaining table since the 10-week strike, which closed dining halls and disrupted student life, and union representatives said that another walkout could occur.
"Although a strike is always likely, the community should be spared that terrible disrupture," said Andrea Ross, chief steward of the union of clerics and technicians.
Ross said she hopes a contract will be settled by Christmas, well before the current contract's expiration on January 16. "The administration has a responsibility to deal with us seriously. Since the 1984 strike, they know what we're capable of," she said.
Concerned about another walkout, a group of students has petitioned the administration to prevent another strike.
Senior Michael Burman has organized a group called Seniors Against Another Strike. In a petition by a group of seniors to the administration and the unions, the students asked that both parties "attempt to reach an equitable settlement."
"We will never forget the ordeal which clouded our freshman year," said Burman. "It showed a lack of consideration for our interests," he said.
But administration officials said they were hopeful that the unions and the university could reach an agreement.
"We do not anticipate a strike," said spokesman Sheila Wellington, secretary of the university. "Our goal is to talk, not to have constant crises," she said.
In order to facilitate discussion, a professional arbitrator will head the labor negotiations team. No such professional held the role in 1984 when the strike occurred, Wellington said.
Discussion will focus on the traditional issues of wages and working conditions, but Wellington said she also expects a review of and changes in the method of selection and classification of personnel.