A primer on the strike at Yale

James Kirchick provides a valuable primer on the farce being played out at Yale by the striking service workers and the demagogues who support them: “If only this strike had something to do with the welfare of Yale’s workers.” The issue over which negotiations have stalled is the service workers’ pension plan, a plan that after 30 years provides a pension equalling 90 percent of the workers’ average salary during their five highest-paid years. It’s the kind of plan that bankrupted the railroads.
Kirkchick also provides a useful summary of the workers’ existing perks: “Yale offers nearly two months of paid leave a year. Yale offers free health care to all of its union employees, their families and retirees who have worked at the University for more than 10 years. Yale offers $25,000 to those workers who wish to purchase a home near the University. Yale offers up to $46,000 over four years in college scholarships to the children of its employees.”
Will Yale hang tough? It doesn’t play tough. It would of course be acting within its rights if it were to replace the workers or otherwise arrange to keep the affected facilitites open, neither of which it has done. As Kirchick’s column notes, Yale has on the contrary already “postponed” its freshman convocation for the first time in its history. Its dining halls are closed and its students have been given chump change for meal money. One of Yale’s many bargaining weaknesses — manifested in its lack of a strategy to keep affected facilities open — is that in any such labor struggle it is institutionally riven by fifth columnists. My guess is that, as in years past, it will fold.


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