The Undergraduate Council's Executive Board this week altered a proposed resolution on next month's support staff union election, striking a clause that asked the University to remain neutral during the vote.
The altered resolution only asks both sides not to intimidate voters. As a result, three of the resolution's six sponsors said they would move to table it and send it back to a council committee.
The struck sentence, which will be offered as an amendment to the truncated resolution if it is considered by the full council Sunday night, says, "In addition, the University should maintain a position of neutrality toward unionization."
More than 2000 students and 20 organizations signed on to a petition backing a measure very similar to the original resolution and delivered it Wednesday to Harvard administrators.
The union election is slated for May 17, when University support staff workers will vote on whether the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) should be their representative in collective bargaining.
"Asking Harvard to maintain a position of neutrality is like asking the union to maintain a postion of neutrality," Social Committee Co-Chairman Jonathan S. Leff '90 said at the meeting. He was one of the four board members who supported striking the neutrality clause at Wednesday's session.
According to Academics Chairman Todd C. Flynn '88, who also voted to strike the clause, the students who signed the neutrality petition were not really calling on the University to remain completely neutral.
But the bill's co-sponsor Frank E. Lockwood '89, council secretary, said, "If we strike that sentence, I think we're insulting the intelligence of 2000 students." Lockwood and Social Committee Co-Chairman Ron S. Lee '89 voted in favor of the neutrality clause on Wednesday.
In an interview, Lockwood called the argument that students signing theneutrality petitions did not realize what theywere agreeing to, "arrogant" and contemptible."
As it stands, the resolution asks theUniversity and the union not to "engage inactivities aimed at pressuring and intimidatingemployees," and calls on Council Chairman Evan J.Mandery '89 to send letters to top union andUniversity officials expressing the council'ssentiments.
Mandery said in an interview yesterday thatwithout the neutrality clause, the sponsors shouldwithdraw the entire bill because it would notreflect the intentions of the students who signedthe petitions. Mandery does not vote at ExecutiveBoard meetings unless there is a tie.
Backers of the union measure said theresolution was severely weakened without theneutrality clause, and several said it should betabled and sent instead to the Services Committeefor a full hearing.
Normally, the services committee would havetaken up the bill this week, but because of morethan an hour of discussion on a proposedanti-homophobia measure--which passed thecommittee unanimously--debate on the unionresolution was bumped to the Executive Board.
The resolution minus the neutrality clause is"no help to the union at all. That's an insult tothem," said cosponsor Robert H. Greenstein '89,who said he would like the bill to return tocommittee. "You might as well withdraw it--it'smeaningless."
"I think the Executive Board managed to gut aperfectly good resolution," Lockwood saidyesterday. Lockwood said the reason he wanted tosend the resolution back to committee was that hewould like it to go before the full council with apositive committee recommendation.
Kimberly B. Ladin '88, who has been active inthe union drive and helped council members draftthe measure, said the board decision ignored theefforts of people "who put a lot of research and alot of care into the words of the resolution."
Council leaders who supported removing theneutrality clause said asking the administrationto remain neutral was unfair. They also arguedthat the more limited resolution retainedsignificance.
"I think the call for neutrality might be alittle excessive," Flynn said yesterday. "I think[the resolution without the neutrality request]would still have meaning."
In other business, council officers saidyesterday they were trying to decide whether tosign a contract with Chuck Berry for an April 30show at Bright Hockey Center. Berry wants $25,000for an hour-long show, and council leaders aredebating whether accepting the contract would be awise business decision, Mandery said