Officials of the newly certified Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) yesterday said the union may ask for improved campus security during its upcoming negotiations with the University, since a woman was raped during daytime hours in the Science Center last week.
Union organizers and support staff members said that building security had not been considered a bargaining item until now. But most agreed that the rape, which occured in an upper floor office, made the issue a pertinent one for contract negotiations, which are expected to begin in February.
"The whole issue of security hasn't come up a lot," said HUCTW organizer Marie Manna. "Obviously something like this focuses it a lot as to how vulnerable people can be."
Most support staff members work in buildings or offices that are fairly isolated, Manna said. She cited William James Hall, Coolidge Hall, the museums, the Medical School and the biology laboratories as areas where workers were particularly isolated.
Manna said that the union has never been contacted with complaints of an assault but added that it was not unusual for support staff members to complain about theft in the work-place. The woman who was raped was not a union member, Manna said.
"They will have to come up with something in the contract that will make the campus safer and not only for women," said one support staff worker, who said that her purse was stolen from her desk last week. The worker asked not to be identified.
Linda Lambkin, a negotiator for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), HUCTW's parent union, said that building security considerations were often negotiated into union contracts.
She said that AFSCME contracts often include provisions for better lighting in parking lots and in buildings, more guards in the buildings and escort services or offers of cab fare home for employees who work at night.
Other employees around campus agreed that building security was an important concern, but most thought that it should be dealt with separate from contract negotiations, since it affects everyone on campus, not just HUCTW members.
Anne H. Taylor, assistant vice president for human resources, said that although several people have called with suggestions for security measures, it had not been discussed as a specific personnel issue.
She said that the University would be receptive to negotiations about campus security but added that such a topic is "not common."
Manna said that while the union had not dealt specifically with issues of security when drawing up a first draft of the contract, they had been considering issues of sexual harassment in the workplace.
She said that the union would discuss issues of workplace security in negotiations now. "We'll clearly have to come up with some way to work with the University on this," she said.
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