Another Vote, Another Rejection

Med Area Clerical Workers and Technicians Say No to Union

While University labor officials toasted each other on their latest victory Thursday night, organizers for District 65, United Auto Workers, were crying.

The intense emotion involved in District 65's latest year-long organizing effort resulted from the contentious history of the union's relations with Harvard.

Since 1974, a small group of dedicated union organizers had been trying to convince clerical and technical workers in the Medical Area that they should seek representation; during the same period, Harvard administrators had insisted to workers that District 65's bid was not in their best interests.

The union saw its hopes all but evaporate this week for the second time in seven years. The final vote showed that 390 employees opposed the union while 328 favored it.

Those results surprised District 65. Although University lawyers would not make predictions before the election, union organizers expressed confidence that they would reverse the 436-346 defeat of June 1977.


Yesterday, District 65 filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), charging that Harvard engaged in unfair labor practices that influenced the vote's outcome.

The NLRB will probably decide within the next two months whether to declare the union's claim valid and hold another election, but District 65 sources are only guardedly optimistic that their complaint will be upheld.

And experience shows that Harvard manages to conduct its anti-union campaigns within the NLRB's complicated guidelines.

District 65 is free to file for election with the NLRB again, but no vote can take place for a year--and nearly four years elapsed between the union's initial drive and this week's election.

Although no District 65 supporter will admit it, the chance of gaining acceptance may grow dimmer with each campaign. For the core of organizers who have devoted the better part of a decade to winning over Med Area secretaries and technicians, that is the unkindest cut of all.