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A spokesman for the Harvard policemen's union said yesterday he is "very skeptical" about the University's plan to hire an outside consulting firm to help resolve the dispute over police morale that has hampered contract negotiations between Harvard and the patrolmen for several weeks.
Henry Wise '18, attorney for the Harvard Police Association, said the union hopes the University will "reach out for something better than the usual commercial consultant idea" in its attempt to help solve the union's dissatisfaction with the recent reorganization efforts of David L. Gorski, chief of the University police.
The union objects to such firms because they are usually biased toward the management's side of any labor dispute, Wise said.
Edward W. Powers, associate general counsel for employee relations, said yesterday the two sides can only resolve the union's objections to Gorski's efficiency campaign by calling in "a firm with considerable resources and background in dealing with organizational change in police departments."
The University will choose a consultant within the next few weeks from a list of about six firms with such experience, Powers added.
The search for an outside consultant began February 25 after both sides agreed to recess the contract negotiations until they could agree on a third party to help mediate disagreements over what Powers called "organizational development problems" apart from the questions of salary and benefits covered in the contract talks.
The 'Hot Shot Cop'
These disputes include the union's contention that Gorski's efficiency drive, which entails increased individual workloads for University policemen and a freeze on new hiring within the force, has destroyed the policemen's morale by creating "a deep mistrust of the chief of police."
The union's complaints about declining morale, coupled with its demands for shorter working hours to make up for the increased workload, have stalled the contract talks three times since they first opened in January. The union has been working without a contract since January 1.
Powers said the University decided to hire a private consulting firm because it did not think the union's alleged proposal to call in a single individual consultant was practical.
A single consultant would not have either "the resources nor the background" to deal with the current dispute, Powers said.
Wise said, however, that the University negotiators misunderstood the union's proposal. He said the union nominated a list of three people to serve as a team of consultants, but the University wrongly decided the union only wanted one of the people on the list to act as the outside adviser.
Neither a single adviser nor a hired firm would satisfy the union, he added.
Wise said the Police Association negotiators would prefer that a "blue-ribbon panel of independent experts" study the morale question and then recommend a solution to the two sides.
"The University has always followed the ideal of excellence" and should therefore call in the best independent experts available, he added.
Laurence F. Letteri, president of the Police Association, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
The contract talks will not resume until both sides agree on a third party to help settle the reorganization dispute. Though Richard X. Goggin, the federal mediator in charge of the negotiations, said last week he thought the union and University might decide on a consultant by early March, Powers said yesterday the search might continue beyond that date.
"We have not yet finalized on anybody," Powers said, and added that he does not know when the contract talks will resume
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