Time to Arbitrate

New York's Harvard Club has been put on the spot. The Club's management will receive this morning a Union offer to submit to arbitration the wage-and-hour labor dispute that has caused the present strike against the Club. If the management agrees to arbitrate, it will probably lose the case; if it refuses, it will have placed itself on morally untenable grounds.

Quite aside from the strength the available figures lend to the Union's case, the terms of the offer to arbitrate are enough in themselves to suggest that labor's side is much the more justified in this dispute. It takes no small amount of confidence in its cause for the Union to agree to accept any three Harvard graduates selected by President Conant as an arbitration board.

The facts in the case are equally convincing. It is true that they have been presented almost entirely by the Union; but this in itself is a fact that works against the management, which has refused to offer on its side any important information beyond one statement that "for the past several months operations of the Club have been on a close to break-even basis," and another that it has granted a wage increase during the last year that was "considerably greater than the average wage for New York City clubs." Neither of these statements in any way answer the Union's claims, which show that up and down the line, the Harvard Club actually pays less wages for a longer work week than the rest of the clubs in New York City.

In view of this, arbitration must make an unpleasant prospect for the Club. But should the Club refuse this offer of arbitration, as it is rumored to have refused previous "behind the scene" efforts initiated by a high New York State official, it would lay itself open to a number of ugly charges.

One of those is that the Club is willing, at any cost, to break the strike and to place the Union in a weak position for bargaining next year throughout the city. This suspicion is based in part on the fact that the Club has paid "scab" waiters during the past week as high as eight dollars per meal.

That the Union--an affiliate of the A.F. of L.'s Hotel Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union--contains a minority Communist influence has nothing to do with the issues of the current case. The demands appear to be both just and modest; and the striking methods have been reasonably mild. Should the Club refuse the present offer to arbitrate, alumni throughout the nation should bring pressure to bear on its management. The name of Harvard should not be connected with the sort of cutthroat labor practices that such a refusal would make evident.