Despite the prospect of a demonstration at today's Commencement ceremonies, there is no end in sight to the two-month-old strike of 36 Harvard printers and typesetters.
Even as Commencement approached, there was no end in sight to the two-month old strike of 36 Harvard printers and typesetters.
The workers, all members of the Graphic Arts International Union (GAIU), had hoped the prospect of a demonstration at Commencement would convince the University to meet their demands for higher wages before today.
The workers and their student supporters recall that the printers' other strike against Harvard, which occurred in 1967, was settled when Harvard granted the workers' demands for higher wages two days before Commencement.
But Harvard seems more willing to have the workers demonstrate at Commencement than to grant them higher wages.
For their part, the printers seem prepared to continue the strike well past Commencement.
Both sides agree that wages are the issue in this strike, which began April 9. Harvard has offered the printers a wage increase of 5 1/2 per cent over their last contract, which expired in November 1973. The printers have demanded increases of 10 per cent for their highest paid workers and 14 per cent for their lowest paid workers.
The five typesetters, who joined the strike on May 6, have not yet formulated any specific wage demands. They say they should receive a larger pay boost than the printers because they are farther behind area rates.
Both the printers and the typesetters claim that they are paid less than other workers in the Boston area who do work of similar quality. Their claims seem to be borne out by the figures.
The printers' wages, which range from about $150 to $240 per week, are about 20 per cent below the wages of other GAIU printers in the area who do similar work.
The wages of the typesetters, which range from about $110 to $130 per week, are about 25 per cent below the wages of typesetters in the area who do similar work.
The striking typesetters prepare their work for printing by a fairly new process known as cold-type. By this process, the workers use sophisticated IBM composition typewriters to record manuscripts on magnetic tape.
In addition to having lower wages than other cold-type workers in the Boston area, the typesetters have wages far below the hot-type workers at Harvard.
The nineteen hot-type workers at Harvard, all of whom are members of the International Typographical Union, are paid about $245 per week for working the day shift and about $260 per week for working the night shift. Hot-type is the traditional composition process which involves linotype.
John B. Butler, Harvard's director of personnel, does not dispute these wage statistics.