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.

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