The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) yesterday granted the University a five-day extension on today's deadline for appealing a judge's decision upholding an employee union victory.
Harvard now has until Wednesday to decide whether or not to appeal the judge's ruling that dismissed University claims that the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers' (HUCTW) campaigned illegally during last May's election.
President Bok and other administrators are now meeting round the clock with legal experts to determine how successful an appeal to the five-member NLRB would be.
HUCTW organizers and University administrators said yesterday that the deadline extension did not mean Bok would wait until Wednesday to announce his decision on the appeal.
"An extension doesn't have to do with the timing of a decision," said Anne H. Taylor, who headed last spring's anti-union campaign. "The announcement will not be at the end of the deadline period."
Taylor said she thought Bok would announce whether or not the University would appeal either this afternoon or Monday.
Kris Rondeau, HUCTW's leader, said she had hoped the decision would be out in time for the union's noontime rally yesterday. She said she still hopes Bok will announce his decision before the weekend.
If the University does not appeal the decision, HUCTW will be certified and contract negotiations are expected to begin by the end of the year. However, if Harvard appeals, the union's status could be tied up in litigation with the NLRB for several years.
Labor experts said yesterday that it is fairly common practice for an employer to ask the NLRB to extend the deadlinewhen it is facing a decision like this.
"It just means the lawyers are overburdened, orthe record was so long it took a morecomprehensive review," said labor lawyer JudithVladeck. "No implication about the decision can bedrawn from a request for an extension."
After HUCTW won the support staff election by anarrow 44-vote margin, the University charged theunion with illegal electioneering, and asked theNLRB to overturn the election and hold a secondvote. The University charged organizers withillegal list-keeping, surveillance and campaigningtoo near the polls and discriminatorytransportation to the polling areas.
In a strongly-worded decision released lastweek, Judge Joel A. Harmatz dismissed all of theUniversity's charges, discrediting many ofHarvard's witnesses and saying that testimonyprovided by others did not prove that the union'stactics were illegal under NLRB laws.
The University has been deliberating for twoweeks whether to appeal the judge's decision toWashington, and filed for the extension earlierthis week. Administrators said that they stillbelieve their case was strong