Negotiations between Yale University and its striking clerical and technical employes reached an impasse Thursday night after the first full week of sessions since the strike began Sept. 26.
Students went home today for their week-long Thanksgiving break with little hope for a quick resolution of the situation.
"I'm angry," said freshman Charles Tillen, who was waiting for a ride to the train station. "Neither negotiating team is holding the interest of the students in mind. I really was hopeful that it would be settled by the time I got back, but I realize now it's a lost cause."
"The two weeks after Thanksgiving are going to be miserable," said Sarah Whiting, a junior. "That's the period of the highest academic pressure, and people are going to be depressed."
There will be two weeks of classes after the holiday break, followed by a one-week reading period and final exams.
Expectations were high all week that the two sides might be approaching a settlement. Michael Finnerty, Yale's vice president for administration, appeared at the bargaining table Monday for the first time, heading a negotiating team that until then had consisted of lawyers from the firm of Seyferth, Shaw and Fairweather.
Two student groups, maintaining that they were neutral, organized protests, calling on both sides to make concessions and end the strike. A Rally for Reconciliation Monday attracted more than 800 undergraduates. A moratorium on campus events, including classes, was supported by more than 1,000 students, most of them from the graduate and professional schools, according to protest organizers.
The breakdown in negotiations came Thursday night after the union made what it called "a drastic reduction" in its salary demand, lowering the cost of its contract proposal from $40 million to $30 million. The university, which has said repeatedly that its contract proposal of $18 million stretches its finances to the limit, offered a new distribution of salary increases but added no money.
Negotiations are to resume Monday with a discussion of minor issues in the contract, according to Lucille Dickess of the union negotiating team.
"I was hoping that when the union was really ready to compromise, the university would give them a little more money and end the strike," said Martha Manglesdorf, a junior. "I had considered myself, if anything, pro-university, but now it's hard to maintain that position."
Alison Cooper, a senior, said the 12 freshmen she counsels in her residential college feel defeated by the situation. "A lot of them have spent time working to end the strike, and they feel now that they have been ignored by both the union and the administration," she said. "They have a much greater feeling that Yale is a fragmented place than I had as a freshman. The strike will eventually end, but I don't think that feeling will dissipate."