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Beth Israel Workers Vote Down Union, But Results Encourage Local Organizer

By George K. Sweetnam

Service employees of Beth Israel Hospital, a Harvard teaching affiliate, last Thursday voted down by 593 to 294 a bid by Local 880 of the Service Employees' International Union to organize and represent them.

The vote actually represents a minor victory for the union, the director of the local's unionizing effort at Beth Israel said yesterday. Herb Quinn said the results show the union has made a substantial gain in the four years it has tried to organize at Beth Israel.

Quinn said the local will continue its attempt to organize. It can ask for a new NLRB election in a year.

In 1974, service employees voted 325 to 122 against any union representation. The 1974 election, supervised by the state labor board, included fewer employees than this year's election, which was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and included more clerical workers.

Quinn said this year's bargaining unit is inappropriate and posed a major obstacle to the local's campaign. He said the inclusion of a large number of employees with more divergent interests made a union victory less likely.

However Dr. Mitchell Rabkin '51, director of Beth Israel, said yesterday the larger voting unit includes many employees who had not had previous contact with the union, and so were more likely to vote in favor of the union.

Employees who have had experience with the union view it with a more "jaundiced eye," because they have seen that many of the union's charges have proven untrue, Rabkin said.

The affected employees, including dietary, housekeeping and maintenance workers and some clerical personnel, comprise about 1000 of Beth Israel's 2200 total employees.

Gerald Shea, staff director of Local 880, said yesterday the union is making gains among the workers by acquainting them with the benefits it can provide them.

Where Local 880 has represented with "a framework in which to get involved in a campaign."

Philip J. Rutledge, another Institute fellow, said yesterday his seminar on the politics of work and welfare will also try to involve students in an informal setting.

Walter Washington, mayor of Washington, D.C., recently appointed Rutledge to chair a national panel studying human resources.

Rutledge will try to involve his seminar students in this study, which will look at 27 human resource departments around the country, he said yesterday.

The Institute yesterday named four other fellows for the spring term.

The group includes John Deardourf, director of advertising for the President Ford Committee. Deardourf will conduct a seminar on political campaigns of the 1980s.

Harrison Fox, a specialist on congressional staffs, will lead a study group on changes in Congress. Elisabeth Griffith, vice chairperson of the National Women's Political caucus, will conduct a seminar on the women's movement, and J. Robert Vastine Jr., a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, will lead a seminar on conflicts between the world's rich and poor

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