John Hoerr

Recent Articles

Solidaritas at Harvard

Meet the Harvard of the labor movement, a model of the new unionism.

O n a cold evening in January 1993, wearing union negotiators returned to their second-floor office across from Harvard Yard and uncorked three bottles of champagne. they had just negotiated a new contract covering some 3,500 non-teaching Harvard Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) began an impromptu briefing on the settlement: pay raises averaging 15.5 percent over three years and a novel provision that virtually guarantees job security. Though pleased with the contrac terms, Rondeau was still angry at Harvard management. the talks had dragged on six months beyond the expiration of the previous contract, delaying the first year's salary increase. "The most important thing you have to remember," she told some 20 HUCTW staff members and activists, "is where it [the settlement] comes from"--not from "the stuff that goes on in those . . . rooms," she said, gesturing with some disdain toward the building where the talks had taken place. "It comes from organizing. It comes from being in...

System Crash

Supposedly, a knowledge economy produces competitiveness and secure jobs. IBM employees in upstate New York learned otherwise.

E arly on Tuesday, March 30, 1993, Michael Cunningham, 41, was summoned to a manager's office in a lab connected with IBM's Poughkeepsie, New York, plant. The son of a retired IBM manager, Cunningham was steeped in the company's regimented culture and zealous attention to detail. He had started on the manufacturing line in 1977 and, through initiative and diligence, advanced to an administrative job as a manufacturing methods specialist on the hourly payroll. His annual pay of $35,000-plus provided a decent living for his wife and three children. A few years earlier, IBM had carried Cunningham through a six-month recuperation from a heart attack, for which he felt indebted to the company. The manager handed Cunningham a short letter that said, "You have been designated as 'surplus employee' effective immediately." His supervisor took his IBM badge and led him from the building. Cunningham noticed strangers--security guards-- patrolling the hallways. "I felt like a prisoner, like I was...