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Picketers Protest Use Of Non-Union Labor

By Todd F. Braunstein

The local carpenters' union is picketing several Harvard construction sites, charging that the University has hired contractors engaging in unfair labor practices.

The University and the contractors in question dispute the claims, saying that all labor practices are perfectly legal and above-board.

For several weeks, represenatives from Carpenters' Local 40 have been picketing outside William James Hall and Lowell House, where contractors have hired non-union labor for various construction projects.

The demonstrations are quiet and generally last for five hours every day, between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Joe T. Walsh, a picketer outside Lowell House yesterday who said he has been unemployed for three months, said he is demonstrating because he is disgusted that the University is attempting to minimize its operating costs at the expense of the union workers.

"As the richest school in the country, I think Harvard can afford to do the right thing," he said.

"I think they should be looking to make the community happy people," he continued. "I live down the street, in the city of Cambridge, my bills keep coming in and I can't pay them."

Walsh and fellow picketer Jerry J. Lynch were protesting Harvard's use of the contractor Muckle and Associates. Representatives from the firm did not return several phone calls yesterday.

Lowell House is undergoing a reconditioning of the tower, including corrective work to the bellfry. The project is slated for completion by early fall.

North of the Yard, several other union members were picketing in protest of C.E. Floyd, the contractor for a renovation to the ninth floor of William James. C.E. Floyd has been the target of previous Local 40 protests, most recently for its use of non-union labor in the renovation of the Harvard-affiliated Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Bill Seydak, who has been a carpenter for nearly 45 years, said that C.E. Floyd offers its workers no benefits, no insurance and no pension.

He said he was protesting in part to protect C.E. Floyd's own workers.

"We're trying to get everyone in the union so everyone can get the same benefits," he said.

Keith Green, another picketer who said he has been unemployed since November, said Harvard was also to blame for continually hiring C.E. Floyd.

"What's the problem with Harvard?" he asked. "Why don't they want to hire union companies? Do they have something against it? Why?"

For their part, contractors and University officials flatly deny charges of unfairness.

"Our wages and benefits are equal to or better than any of the union wages and benefits," said Chuck Floyd, C.E. Floyd's owner. "They have never even asked me for information about our wages and benefits. They're making claims without ever checking any of the facts."

Floyd promised in a telephone interview to provide documentation to support his claims, but did not, and could not be reached for comment later.

University officials also defended their contractors.

David A. Zewinski '76, associate dean for physical resources and planning in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said the University keeps close tabs on all its contractors, including C.E. Floyd.

"We investigated them prior to even hiring them, and had them put [a promise of fair labor practices] in writing to us this past year, since there was such a rile being raised by the unions," Zewinski said.

Zewinski said that the picketers' only motive was to ensure that all University contracts go to union labor. However, the overwhelming majority of University contracts already go to the unions, he said, including the Freshman Union and Sanders Theatre projects.

"We are good friends of union labor," he said.

Ongoing Negotiations

Mark Erlich, business manager of Carpenters' Local 40, said this week that the union has made progress in talks with the University, but added that the union still has a long way to go.

He said that because the University is so decentralized, "for every two steps forward...there's a step back with" some other project manager in the University.

Erlich said that he wants the University to develop overarching guidelines that would ensure fair labor practices across the University. He is currently engaged in negotiations to that effect with the University's director of labor relations, Timothy R. Manning

"Our wages and benefits are equal to or better than any of the union wages and benefits," said Chuck Floyd, C.E. Floyd's owner. "They have never even asked me for information about our wages and benefits. They're making claims without ever checking any of the facts."

Floyd promised in a telephone interview to provide documentation to support his claims, but did not, and could not be reached for comment later.

University officials also defended their contractors.

David A. Zewinski '76, associate dean for physical resources and planning in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said the University keeps close tabs on all its contractors, including C.E. Floyd.

"We investigated them prior to even hiring them, and had them put [a promise of fair labor practices] in writing to us this past year, since there was such a rile being raised by the unions," Zewinski said.

Zewinski said that the picketers' only motive was to ensure that all University contracts go to union labor. However, the overwhelming majority of University contracts already go to the unions, he said, including the Freshman Union and Sanders Theatre projects.

"We are good friends of union labor," he said.

Ongoing Negotiations

Mark Erlich, business manager of Carpenters' Local 40, said this week that the union has made progress in talks with the University, but added that the union still has a long way to go.

He said that because the University is so decentralized, "for every two steps forward...there's a step back with" some other project manager in the University.

Erlich said that he wants the University to develop overarching guidelines that would ensure fair labor practices across the University. He is currently engaged in negotiations to that effect with the University's director of labor relations, Timothy R. Manning

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