LAST YEAR all the University's unions settled for a three-year contract calling for successive wage increases of 10, 9, and 8 per cent, and diminutive gains in fringe benefits. This must be quite satisfying for the folks who negotiate for Harvard; they didn't budge very far in bargaining with the University's employees, and they reached an agreement with a minimum of brouhaha.
The administrators responsible for employee relations should not neglect the status of Harvard's workers for the next three years. In times of severe economic uncertainty, it would benefit all involved to keep in mind the interests of the school's support services and to deal responsibly with the unions over the contracts' duration.
In the Medical Area, organizers for District 65 of the United Auto Workers will gear up this fall for a bid to represent clerical and technical workers in their dealings with Harvard. If history is a useful indicator, the University will stop at nothing to thwart the union's efforts.
Just as District 65 has a right to conduct a campaign for recognition, the administration has a right to try to block the attempt. But today, with District 65 more experienced after its first unsuccessful drive to unionize the employees, the time seems ripe for a union victory. Because the initial effort was defeated by only 50 swing votes in 1977 after a three-year battle in which both sides pulled out all the stops, the vigorous campaign being conducted by District 65 should rally worker sentiment behind the union. District 65 will probably file for the right to hold an election with the National Labor Relations Board sometime this fall.
In 1977 union organizers bitterly charged that Harvard used underhanded tactics to stymie District 65's bid. The University's influence far exceeds that of District 65, and we hope its officials do not take advantage of this by harassing the union. Harvard's conduct should be beyond reproach, so that the workers are given the right to decide their status for themselves.
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