Human Resources
Best Practices

President Levin and Officers Applaud Work of Best Practices

Thursday, March 23, was a very special occasion for the labor-management relationship at Yale as the staff involved in Best Practices efforts met with the Yale Officers to discuss progress on all of the new union-management milestones that have occurred since Best Practices was signed into the Union contracts in the fall of 2003.

The session began with opening comments from the Best Practices Policy Board. Local 35 President Bob Proto commented that "the process has helped change the Yale culture and make for a more effective and efficient work force.” He encouraged people to be open-minded and flexible as the program developed. President of Local 34, Laura Smith, stated that "C&Ts are invested in jobs and the success of the University and now feel that they have a seat at the table." Vice President Bruce Alexander expressed his pleasure in the visible change in the relationships between the unions and management since he was last involved in this process during the negotiation of the contracts.

The executive sponsors and co-chairs of seven Joint Departmental Committees (JDCs) shared their experiences working together to solve problems that will lead to measurable improvements in customer service, productivity and employee satisfaction. They represented the Animal Resources Center, Athletics, British Art Center, Dining, Internal Medicine, Health Services, and the Library. Ernst Huff, associate vice president of Student Financial and Administrative Services, and Mike Schoen, first cook at Berkeley College, presented the success that the Dining Services JDC has worked to bring about. In October 2005 the Dining Services team decided to work on reducing the number of grievances and the use of casual employees, and in just a few months they have made significant progress in resolving outstanding grievances and improving scheduling in the dining halls. Ernie Huff stated, “I am pleased that we have worked cooperatively and employed techniques developed through our JDC experience to achieve positive results in these two areas. Not only have we reduced grievances by 60%, but more importantly, we have devoted attention to preventing their recurrence. We are affecting our use of casual employees by employing a schedule review technique developed by our JDC. This has yielded a 50% reduction in our use of casual employees in five of the residential dining halls.”

The other co-chairs gave brief summaries of their projects and the lessons they’ve learned as they have worked together. President Levin noted that he was pleased to hear how the JDCs have served as a catalyst for labor and management to work together to improve services and productivity, and is looking forward to regular updates from these and other JDCs as they form. The Officers expressed a strong commitment to the committees and the labor-management process and said they hoped to see more groups work on projects that will improve productivity and services for faculty, students, patients, and the entire Yale community.

For more information about Best Practices, visit