After working 15 months without a raise or a new contract, Harvard's Police Department's patrol officers are restless. Contract negotiations with Harvard have broken down, and the police are now taking their case to the people they have been hired to protect. This weekend, the patrol officers' union paid for a two-page color advertisement in The Crimson and hired a plane to fly a banner requesting public support for the officers.
If the University were to lose its patrollers, it would mean more than spending the night in the hallway outside your locked room. It would mean a sluggish response when a law student is stabbed in the Square. It would mean that the brawl earlier this month in Eliot and Kirkland Houses could have turned into a full-blown melee, with greater violence and injuries. It would mean a crippling of Harvard's ability to respond in the event of any crime, any emergency.
Associate Director for Labor Relations Carolyn R. Young '76 is offering the patrollers a 2.6 percent raise for 1993 and 1994. Budgets are tight all across the University--except, it seems, when it comes to the police administration's payroll. When you get right down to it, this is an issue of fairness. Harvard's patrollers are underpaid-down the river, at MIT. they make roughly 4 percent more.
The University regularly raises salaries among the police department's management by 4.5 to 5 percent, nearly twice what they are offering the patrollers. And Harvard's final agreement with the University's largest union, the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, culminated in raises of 4 percent, 5 percent and 5 percent. Indeed, a 2.6 percent raise barely keeps pace with the rate of inflation.
Finally, the University's claims of budget difficulties are old news--and quite frankly, somewhat silly. When has an employer ever acknowledged fiscal prosperity during contract negotiations? If other universities, like MIT and B.U., can pay their police patrollers fairly, then surely the wealthiest university in the world can. Especially when that university is set to embark on the largest fund drive in higher education history.
In the past two years, the University has demonstrated an embarrassing inability to deal fairly with its unionized workers. And throughout the contract negotiations, Harvard administrators have relentlessly nickel-and-dimed those workers. For the University to play hardball with a workforce as vital to the University as its patrol officers is not only outrageous, it is a threat to the safety of the University.