Employees' Organizers Begin Drive for Union Membership

The Harvard Employees Organizing Committee yesterday began a drive to collect union membership cards from two-thirds of the 4000 Harvard clerical and technical employees who work outside the Medical Area.

The committee needs pledges of union membership from at least one-third of the clerical and technical employees in order to hold a National Labor Relations Board-sponsored union election that could result in its becoming the sole bargaining agent for the employees.

Gertraude Schroder, a secretary at the Harvard Observatory and a member of the HEOC, said yesterday that "it's practically organizing law" that a union should have far more than the minimum number of membership pledges before asking for an election.

"You should never go for one-third," Schroder explained. "People leave their jobs or change their minds and you can't be sure you'll win."

The committee collected at a meeting yesterday about 75 of the pledges--which make their signers members of District 65 of the Distributive Workers of America, a New York-based clerical workers' union.

Schroder said the HEOC will continue to collect the pledges through its representatives in every building at Harvard where non-unionized employees who are not in supervisory positions work.

She said the committee will probably be ready to petition the NLRB for a union-forming election a year from now.

Leslie Sullivan, a District 65 employee and chief organizer for the Medical Area Organizing Committee, said yesterday that the Medical Area group now has union membership pledges from over half of the clerical and technical workers at the Med School.

The Medical Area group, which works cooperatively with the HEOC but maintains a separate unionizing drive, will ask for a union-forming election among Medical Area clerical and technical workers next month, Schroder said.

John B. Butler, director of Personnel, said yesterday that the University will contest the unionizing rights of both the HEOC and the Medical Area committee if they petition for elections separately.

Butler said the only appropriate union of Harvard's clerical and technical workers would be a University-wide one.

If the University challenges either group's right to unionize, the NLRB would hold hearings to determine whether each group would be an appropriate union by itself.

Schroder said that if Harvard challenges the Medical Area group's unionizing effort successfully, the two groups will then join forces