News

Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus

News

For Kennedy School Fellows, Epstein-Linked Donors Present a Moral Dilemma

News

Tenants Grapple with High Rents and Local Turnover at Asana-Owned Properties

News

In April, Theft Surged as Cambridge Residents Stayed at Home

News

The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Harvard Unions Distribute Letters

By Ira E. Stoll, Crimson Staff Writer

Copies of a strongly worded open letter from a coalition of nine Harvard unions were dropped last night at doors in undergraduate dorms across campus.

Harvard Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs John H. Shattuck said yesterday that the letter inaccurately characterized labor relations at Harvard.

The letter, whose release was first reported last Wednesday, said "Harvard's management is taking a more combative and hostile stance toward its own workers."

In the first detailed response to the letter's charges from a Harvard manager who had actually seen the letter, Shattuck said, "It is really unfortunate when inaccurate information gets disseminated."

Shattuck said the letter's most troubling characterization was of the ongoing negotiations between the University and its largest union, the 3,600 member Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers.

The letter said the clerical and technical workers union has "settled into a tense and hostile standoff with administrators who are unwilling to offer them a decent economic package."

Shattuck said, "Look at the actual offer. It's the offer that's sitting on thetable. It's one that should be very attractive topeople."

Shattuck said management has offered the uniona 4 percent pay increase, along with expansion ofsome other benefits. He said 4 percent is the sameraise given to faculty and administrators and hesaid the figure is higher than the rate ofinflation and the average 1992 contract settlementin New England.

"It's a position that the University feels isvery much in good faith," Shattuck said.

Management Chief Negotiator Bill Jaeger saidlast week that "4 percent" is not an adequaterepresentation of any contract offer.

"The process of trying to negotiate a salaryincrease cannot be reduced to one number," Jaegersaid. "The University could make us an 8 percentoffer that could be structured in a way that isentirely unacceptable to us."

For instance, Jaeger said, the union would notagree to a package in which Harvard Vice Presidentfor Finance Robert H. Scott chose 1,000 unionmembers who would each get a 20 percent raise. Theunion has been particularly concerned aboutprotecting progressive pay increase structures,which reward employees for their length of serviceto Harvard.

Shattuck also said the letter contained smaller"factual inaccuracies."

The letter complained about Harvard hiringnon-union outside contractors for constructionwork. Shattuck said Harvard is spending $120million on union construction contracts in theYard, the Law School and Holyoke Center. Shattucksaid he did not know how much Harvard spends onnon-union contracts, but he said it is "very smallcompared to that large figure."

The letter said the National Labor RelationsBoard recently ruled that Harvard unlawfullysuspended a worker for his union activities.Shattuck and the worker both said yesterday thatthere was no official ruling. Harvard did settlewith the worker and revoke the suspension.

The worker, Harold W. Hirtle, is a union shopsteward for the Graphics CommunicatorsInternational Union local 600 at the Office of theUniversity Publisher. He said yesterday that hestill views his suspension as an antiunion move.

Shattuck also disputed a claim in the unionletter that managers at the Office of theUniversity Publisher failed to remedy dangerousworking conditions that workers brought to theirattention. Shattuck said the University Publisherwas never notified of the safety violations beforea federal inspection found the problems.

But Hirtle said he and other workers repeatedlyasked a joint labor-management safety committee tofix safety problems and only brought in thefederal Occupational Safety and HealthAdministration after facing frustration.

"We had brought problems to them constantly andthey just hadn't done anything about it," Hirtlesaid.

Hirtle said the safety committee has since beenre-invigorated, and Shattuck said the violationsfor which Harvard was fined $12,500 were quicklycorrected.

The letter also said administrators have failedto comply with requests from Harvard policeofficers for a more clear definition of "publicsafety risks." Shattuck said the question is beingreviewed by the University general counsel'soffice.

The letter from the coalition of unions wasdoor dropped by students in the undergraduateHarvard-Radcliffe Labor Alliance. The group addeda cover letter inviting students to a talktonight. They are planning a petition drive afterThanksgiving to support the union, an organizersaid

Shattuck said management has offered the uniona 4 percent pay increase, along with expansion ofsome other benefits. He said 4 percent is the sameraise given to faculty and administrators and hesaid the figure is higher than the rate ofinflation and the average 1992 contract settlementin New England.

"It's a position that the University feels isvery much in good faith," Shattuck said.

Management Chief Negotiator Bill Jaeger saidlast week that "4 percent" is not an adequaterepresentation of any contract offer.

"The process of trying to negotiate a salaryincrease cannot be reduced to one number," Jaegersaid. "The University could make us an 8 percentoffer that could be structured in a way that isentirely unacceptable to us."

For instance, Jaeger said, the union would notagree to a package in which Harvard Vice Presidentfor Finance Robert H. Scott chose 1,000 unionmembers who would each get a 20 percent raise. Theunion has been particularly concerned aboutprotecting progressive pay increase structures,which reward employees for their length of serviceto Harvard.

Shattuck also said the letter contained smaller"factual inaccuracies."

The letter complained about Harvard hiringnon-union outside contractors for constructionwork. Shattuck said Harvard is spending $120million on union construction contracts in theYard, the Law School and Holyoke Center. Shattucksaid he did not know how much Harvard spends onnon-union contracts, but he said it is "very smallcompared to that large figure."

The letter said the National Labor RelationsBoard recently ruled that Harvard unlawfullysuspended a worker for his union activities.Shattuck and the worker both said yesterday thatthere was no official ruling. Harvard did settlewith the worker and revoke the suspension.

The worker, Harold W. Hirtle, is a union shopsteward for the Graphics CommunicatorsInternational Union local 600 at the Office of theUniversity Publisher. He said yesterday that hestill views his suspension as an antiunion move.

Shattuck also disputed a claim in the unionletter that managers at the Office of theUniversity Publisher failed to remedy dangerousworking conditions that workers brought to theirattention. Shattuck said the University Publisherwas never notified of the safety violations beforea federal inspection found the problems.

But Hirtle said he and other workers repeatedlyasked a joint labor-management safety committee tofix safety problems and only brought in thefederal Occupational Safety and HealthAdministration after facing frustration.

"We had brought problems to them constantly andthey just hadn't done anything about it," Hirtlesaid.

Hirtle said the safety committee has since beenre-invigorated, and Shattuck said the violationsfor which Harvard was fined $12,500 were quicklycorrected.

The letter also said administrators have failedto comply with requests from Harvard policeofficers for a more clear definition of "publicsafety risks." Shattuck said the question is beingreviewed by the University general counsel'soffice.

The letter from the coalition of unions wasdoor dropped by students in the undergraduateHarvard-Radcliffe Labor Alliance. The group addeda cover letter inviting students to a talktonight. They are planning a petition drive afterThanksgiving to support the union, an organizersaid

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags