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Workers File New Club Complaint

By Mercer R. Cook, Crimson Staff Writer

Workers at the Harvard Club of Boston lodged a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board last week alleging that the Club threatened workers to prevent them from participating in union activities and illegally surveilled workers participating in such activities.

The Club and its workers are currently involved in another lawsuit, in which workers are claiming that the Club violated the Massachusetts “Tip Law” by charging service charges that the management then failed to distribute to workers. In the midst of these two lawsuits, the Harvard Club of Boston is also in contract negotiations with UNITE HERE! Local 26, the union that represents Harvard Club of Boston workers and Harvard University dining hall workers.

The Harvard Club of Boston is a private business open to Harvard graduates as well as graduates of “selected affiliate colleges and universities,” according to its website. The Club is not associated with Harvard University. Representatives of the Club declined to comment for this article.

Harvard Club workers and union organizers allege that the illegal threatening and surveillance occurred when workers organized a leafletting campaign in which Club workers and union members handed out flyers promoting member and community support for a fair contract negotiation. Club management reportedly issued “threats of reprisals and coercion against bargaining unit members for engaging in protected concerted activity,” according to the official complaint issued by workers. The complaint further claims that the management called the police, told some workers that they were not allowed to go outside, and “overtly repeatedly photograph[ed] bargaining unit members engaged in protected concerted activity.”

One Harvard Club worker, who identified herself as Susanna, said that her manager told her that she was not permitted to go outside and participate in union activity, even on her break.

“My manager told me that I was not allowed to leave and that they were going to call the police,” Susanna said.

Susanna’s co-worker, who identified herself as Norma, said that she felt the Club was holding the workers inside in order to intimidate them.

“They wanted to show that they had all the power, not us,” Norma said. “They were using intimidation to make us believe that we were powerless.”

Union members and workers said they hope the new lawsuit will help make sure that workers are not pressured by their managers. According to Dana Simon, a representative for Local 26, the union is focused on ensuring that the Club does not use “intimidation” to prevent workers from lawfully pursuing their right to a fair contract.

“More than just being illegal, this was just a rotten, unacceptable way to treat decent, hard-working people,” Simon said.  “Management just has to bargain in good faith—they can’t just push that away.”

According to Simon, a “just” contract consists of increased salaries, better health care policies, and maintaining the current number of vacation days.

“Management is proposing no wage increases for six years and, out of 240 workers, less than 90 have health care,” he said. “We are really serious about trying to negotiate a contract that will enable our members to lead full lives.”`

—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at mcook@college.harvard.edu.

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