University, Union Near Agreement On New Contract

Settlement Anticipated Soon

The University and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers appear to be on the verge of settling the contract dispute that has dragged on for the last six months.

The union, whose last three-year contract expired June 30, called reporters Monday to inform them that they expected to announce a settlement that afternoon.

But in the afternoon and evening, confusion emerged in the Holyoke Center room where management and union negotiators were gathered. A source said that in addition to "confusion," the anticipated agreement also foundered when a difference emerged over a small detail of the proposed salary package for the union's 3,500 members.

"It's not going to happen tonight," union chief negotiator Bill Jaeger said at the time.

Yesterday, both sides were optimistic about the chances for a quick settlement.


Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine, in his newly carpeted office, appeared chipper in an interview and said the two sides are "very close." Rudenstine said an end to the negotiations is "significantly closer than it was before the vacation."

Union organizer Kristine Rondeau said there was "real movement and real progress" over the vacation.

The two sides did not meet yesterday because one of the mediators had a personal commitment. But Rondeau said the union and management will try to meet today to put the finishing touches on the agreement. "It could be tomorrow. It could be a few more days," Rondeau said yesterday.

Any new contract will last for three years. It will likely include a salary increase package for the union of about four percent for the first year, withflexibility above four percent in years two andthree. The agreement will preserve a progressionincrease program to reward employees for thelength of their Harvard service.

The package will also include agreements onwork security, childcare and education benefitsand employee parking concerns. Union officialswere optimistic about the progress of a Universitycommittee on domestic partner benefits, but it isunlikely that the agreement will contain aspecific, detailed program of such benefits.

Union and management spokes-people have madeseveral public statements about the results of thenegotiations over the course of the last sixmonths, and Rondeau said yesterday, "I don't thinkthere are going to be any surprises."

Rondeau and other union and managementofficials refused to comment on the contents ofthe proposed settlement.

In months of bargaining, the negotiating teamshave been assisted by federal and other mediators.At times, the secret bargaining has broken outinto public bickering and recrimination, withunion leaders calling some Harvard administrators"mean-spirited," and Harvard administratorsaccusing the union of spreading "disinformation."

In the end, the toughest issue was the size ofthe union's pay raise. Apparently the two sidesreached an agreement on that matter while studentsand faculty were on their winter vacation.

What's left, officials say, are details. "Thedetails matter," Rudenstine said, "so it'simportant to get it right."

Both sides say they hope to "get it right"soon. Union leaders will then hold dozens ofmeetings with members in an effort to inform themof the agreement's provisions. Union PresidentDonene M. Williams said she anticipates noproblems in getting the agreement ratified by amajority of union members who vote in a specialelection about two weeks from when the contracttalks are concluded.

"I think people are going to be veryhappy...very proud of the agreement that we comeup with," Williams said