Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers

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In May 1988, 4000 Harvard employess in offices, laboratories and libraries chose to be represented by the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, which was affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Kristine Rondeau was the lead organizer for HUCTW.

From the description of Records, 1988-2003 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 123430032

Labor organizing of clerical and technical workers at Harvard University dates to the early 1970s in the Harvard Medical Area. Frustrated by poor treatment and low wages, a group of women research assistants, graduate students, and faculty members began meeting to discuss workplace conditions affecting women. Led by laboratory assistant Leslie Sullivan, graduate student Norma Swenson, and Associate Dean for Student Affairs Mary Howell, the Harvard Medical School Women’s Group challenged sexism at Harvard. That effort would soon splinter, leading Sullivan to focus her efforts on improving workplace conditions for all clerical and technical staff in the Harvard Medical area. She was supported by organizers including Marlene Goldman, Edie Brickman, Kristin Mahon, Jeanne Lafferty, John Rees, Jeremy Pool, Richard Pendleton, Drago Clifton, and later, Kristine (Kris) Rondeau, a research assistant at the Harvard School of Public Health. Sullivan and Rondeau met at an organizing committee meeting in 1977. Rondeau’s dedication and skill soon elevated her to a leadership role in the fifteen-year effort to organize the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW), which represents all support staff, including secretaries, library and laboratory assistants, and accounting clerks, among many others. Leaders of the HUCTW campaign included Maria Manna, Martha Robb, Jeanne Lafferty, and William (Bill) Jaeger; many other organizers volunteered their time. On May 17, 1988, approximately 3,400 employees - 82 percent of whom were women - voted in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) -sanctioned election to be represented by the HUCTW, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The election made HUCTW the largest union of clerical and technical workers at any private university in the United States.

The following chronology provides a brief history of the successful organizing efforts:

  • Early 1970s: Employees in the Harvard Medical Area begin to consider forming a union, starting a process which would culminate more than 15 years later with the certification of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers.
  • 1974: A group of Medical Area employees embark upon a union search to assist them in organizing. District 65, a national union with thousands of members in New England, is chosen.
  • 1975: Harvard-District 65 supporters petition for an election at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Harvard disputes the definition of the "bargaining unit" as the Medical Area only, and the election is delayed for two years.
  • May 13, 1977: The NLRB finds that the Medical School campus is indeed an appropriate bargaining unit.
  • June 29, 1977: First election. In an NLRB-certified election, employees vote against forming a union, 436 to 346.
  • 1979: District 65 becomes part of the United Auto Workers (UAW).
  • April 9, 1981: Second election. The union loses 390 to 328.
  • August 1981: The union files an unfair labor practices charge against Harvard for its conduct during the second election. The NLRB rules that the election should be set aside and a new election held. Harvard appeals and the decision is overturned.
  • May 1983: The union petitions for a third election. Once again, Harvard disputes the appropriateness of the bargaining unit, claiming the appropriate unit is the whole campus, not just the Medical School Area.
  • March 1984: The NLRB reverses its previous decision and defines the bargaining unit as being university support staff from the entire campus.
  • August 1985: The union organizing staff, led by Kris Rondeau, decide to disaffiliate from the UAW due to irreconcilable differences over organizing principles and strategies. Organizers create the new, independent Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW). The HUCTW staff continue organizing without pay for the next 18 months.
  • January 1987: HUCTW agrees to affiliate with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
  • March 1988: HUCTW/AFSCME petitions NLRB for an election.
  • May 17, 1988: Third election. Approximately 3,400 employees from six campuses vote to be represented by the HUCTW. The union wins 1530 to 1486. Shortly thereafter, Harvard files a complaint with the NLRB about HUCTW's election day activities and hearings before an administrative law judge ensue.
  • October 1988: The administrative law judge rules strongly in favor of the union, upholding the election results and proclaiming Harvard's charges as "frivolous."
  • November 4, 1988: Harvard President Derek Bok recognizes the union as the representative of the clerical and technical workers. In a letter to the Harvard commmunity he states, "I will work to make this relationship as constructive and harmonious as possible."
  • November 10, 1988: HUCTW/AFSCME is officially certified by the NLRB.
  • December 1988 - January 1989 : A 60-day transition period begins, giving union activists and Harvard administration an opportunity to begin a new relationship founded on mutual trust and cooperation.
  • February 1989: Negotiations begin for the first agreement, with 70 elected union members participating.
  • June 1989: Members of HUCTW ratify a three-year contract with 94% in favor.
  • October 1989: The contract is signed, and the union votes to ratify HUCTW by-laws.
  • November 2, 1989: HUCTW members elect their first campus-wide officers, a 13-member Executive Board, and members of 26 Joint Councils.
  • February 14, 1990: Union representatives are elected in every department and area of the campus.

From the guide to the Records of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, 1967-2005, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Records of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, 1967-2005 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Horner, Matina. Records of the President of Radcliffe College: Series 5, 1972-1989 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Wilson, Linda S., 1936-. Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1973-1999 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1972-1989 Radcliffe College Archives, Radcliffe Institute
creatorOf Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers. General information by and about the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical workers, ca. 1980-present. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn The lead balloon, July 12, 1988 Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1973-1999 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hoerr, John P., 1930-. Papers, 1988-1996 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College Archives subject files, 1869-2007 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College Archives subject files, 1894-2006 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers. Records, 1988-2003 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Democratic Socialists of America Audiocassette Collection, 1976-1996 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adrienne Landau person
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associatedWith Anne Frankel person
associatedWith Backus, Dave person
associatedWith Barbara Howard person
associatedWith Becker, Craig person
associatedWith Bob Rush person
associatedWith Boston University) corporateBody
associatedWith Burrill, Tom person
associatedWith Chenoweth Moffatt person
correspondedWith Committee on the Status of Women corporateBody
associatedWith Craig Becker's? person
associatedWith Democratic Socialists of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Dev Kernan person
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associatedWith Gelband, Joie person
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correspondedWith Grealy, Thomas person
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associatedWith Harvard Business School corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Employee Organizing Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Law School corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Medical Area Employee Organizing Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Medical Area Women's Group corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Medical School corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Hoerr, John P., 1930- person
associatedWith Hofkins, Diane person
associatedWith Horner, Matina. person
correspondedWith Hyatt Legal Services corporateBody
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associatedWith Jackson, Jesse person
associatedWith James L. Medoff person
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correspondedWith Kennedy, Joseph person
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correspondedWith Kirschner, Weinberg & Dempsey corporateBody
associatedWith Kris Rondeau person
associatedWith Ladin, Kim person
associatedWith Laura Johnson person
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associatedWith Maggie Carracino person
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associatedWith Manna, Marie person
associatedWith Maria Manna person
associatedWith Marie Manna person
associatedWith Marilyn Byrne person
associatedWith Mark McAfee person
associatedWith Martha Robb. person
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associatedWith Matina Horner person
correspondedWith Maybloom, Bert person
associatedWith Middlebury College corporateBody
associatedWith National Organization for Women corporateBody
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associatedWith Patrick, Deval person
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associatedWith Rondeau, Kristine. person
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correspondedWith Sidney Farber person
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associatedWith The Labor Foundation corporateBody
associatedWith The Pipets corporateBody
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associatedWith United Staff Union corporateBody
associatedWith University Health Services corporateBody
associatedWith University of Massachusetts corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota corporateBody
associatedWith Vetters, Ralph person
associatedWith Walz, Karen person
associatedWith Widener Library corporateBody
associatedWith William Winslow Erickson person
associatedWith Wilson, Linda S., 1936- person
associatedWith Yale University corporateBody
associatedWith Yvette Rheault. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts
Subject
Women labor leaders
Labor unions--Organizing
Occupation
Activity

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Active 1988

Active 2003

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