Negotiators for Harvard and the striking University printers failed to settle the three-month-old strike in a three-hour negotiating session yesterday at which the printers' union drastically reduced its wage demands.
The University and the Graphic Arts International Union (GAIU) will hold another negotiating session Monday at which Harvard will present a response to the GAIU's new wage offer.
James J. Norton, international representative for the GAIU, said last night that both sides have set aside Monday and Tuesday for a possible marathon bargaining session that could bring a final settlement of the strike.
Norton said that at the beginning of yesterday's session the union said it would accept a two-year contract with a 5.5 per cent wage increase in the first year and a 15 per cent hike in the second--a substantial decrease from the 21.5 per cent second year increase the union asked for at the last bargaining session last month.
The offer apparently came as a surprise to Harvard's representatives, who went into a lengthy caucus and finally rejected the union's proposal, Norton said.
The union then proposed a second cut in wage increases, Norton said, to "probably around 13 per cent" for the second year.
At that point several union representatives had to leave the negotiations, but the federal mediator in the strike, Daniel Hurley, asked the two parties to come together again as soon as possible and eventually set up the Monday date, Norton said.
He said the union's new offer calls for part of the wage increase to be payable immediately upon settlement of the strike. The printers would get the rest in November, when the second year of the contract, which expired last November, would begin.
The union offer also covers the six striking workers from the University Mail and Communications Center and includes a provision guaranteeing that Harvard will rehire everyone now out on strike, Norton said.
Norton said Harvard's highest offer so far has been for a seven per cent wage increase in the second year of the contract.
John B. Butler, Harvard director of Personnel and the sole University spokesman on the strike, said yesterday that the two sides are "making progress" in their negotiations but would not comment further.