Students Ask for Union Vote Neutrality
2000 Sign Petition
Fifty students from a variety of student organizations gathered in front of Mass Hall yesterday to urge the University to remain impartial in this May's union election, presenting President Bok with a petition favoring neutrality signed by more that 2000 students.
Event organizers said yesterday that the University has unjustly interfered with attempts by the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) to establish itself as the union representing Harvard's nearly 4000 support staff members. They said the election would not accurately reflect the opinion of workers if Harvard continues to take a public position against a union.
HUCTW's fate will be decided on May 17, when the Harvard employees will votewhether or not to select HUCTW as its union, theNational Labor Relations Board announced Tuesdayafternoon.
"We don't want Derek Bok to behave like BossTweed," said Ann Marie Leshkowich '89, presidentof the Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats (HRD), one of20 student groups sponsoring the rally. "We wantto urge Harvard to remain neutral during theupcoming campaign [for union election]."
Kimberly B. Ladin '88, one of the event'sorganizers, said Harvard currently holds coerciveanti-union meetings for employees during the workday.
Ladin said that because personnel officersfrequent such meetings, staff members feel theyare pressured to attend.
"It is alarming and surprising to hear that theUniversity is intimidating people and publishingfalse information," Phillips Brooks House (PBH)President Van L. Truong '89 told thedemonstrators.
Harvard officials have said that they wantworkers to be able to choose union affiliation.But in response to HUCTW's heavy organizing oncampus, Harvard has supplied informationexplaining some of the drawbacks of unionizationand the benefits of current employer-employeerelations.
The University has said another reason forpublicizing its position is that the unionprovides what Harvard officials call "one-sided"information. As part of the University informationcampaign, top administrators--who head divisionswhere hundreds of support staff work--occasionallywrite letters to workers articulating Harvard'spositions.
Such actions drew criticism from unionorganizers and the protesters yesterday.
"What we're demanding is that the Universitynot pressure its employees to vote against theunion," Ladin said, adding that the protest wasnot in favor of either side in the election.
Although the rally was nonpartisan, HUCTWdirector Kris Rondeau said she was pleased. "Ithink it's wonderful," Rondeau said. "Students andworkers are very similar constituencies."
Six-year Littauer library employee SusanLeavitt said she was encouraged by the rally. "Thestudents have been just terrific for us," Leavittsaid, adding, "This means a lot to me."
Yesterday's rally was organized by the PBH'sCommittee on Economic Change and was endorsed by20 student groups, including Harvard-RadcliffeHillel and the house committees from Adams, Lowelland Quincy