Harvard thwarts union organizing effort

Michael P. Tremoglie Jun. 1, 2012, 8:19am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) Rosemary Pye, Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board Region 1, issued a ruling Thursday granting Harvard University's request to reject a labor union's organizing efforts.

The New England Coalition of Public Safety sought to represent a unit of 17 sergeants employed by the Harvard University Police Department. Harvard declared that all of the sergeants are statutory supervisors. NECOPS claimed that the sergeants are nonsupervisory employees and petitioned the board to be able to represent them. Harvard wanted the petition dismissed and NLRB complied.

Pye wrote, "I find that the petitioned-for sergeants are statutory supervisors and shall dismiss the petition."

NECOPS bills itself as the only labor organization in New England which represents law enforcement and public safety officers employed by private colleges, universities and hospitals. It claims to be the only union for campus police and private sector public safety officers in New England.

Pye noted that the Harvard University Police Department operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year from its headquarters at 1033 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The department is headed by Chief of Police Francis Riley. There 60 sworn HUPD officers who are represented by the Harvard University Police Association. They are covered by a collective-bargaining agreement between their union and the University.

The sergeants are employed within three separate sections: Operations, Criminal Investigations, and Administrative and Finance. Each of these sections is headed by a deputy chief who reports to Riley.

The Operations group employs 12 sergeants, three of whom are shift commanders. The Criminal Investigations Department includes two sergeants dedicated to dignitary and VIP protection and special events, as well as one sergeant dedicated to criminal investigations. Finally, two sergeants work in the administrative branch of this group. These two sergeants report to the Manager for Administration and Finance.

Harvard maintained that the sergeants are statutory supervisors because of their authority to assign work and direct employees, grant time leave, authorize overtime, enforce rules, reply to grievances, and their role in the hiring process.

Pye said, "I find, in agreement with Harvard, that the sergeants are Section 2(11) supervisors on the basis of all of those indicia, with the exception of their role in the hiring process... I find, however, that the sergeants use independent judgment in the daily assignment of work to officers and in responsibly directing them."

She further stated that because the sergeants are salaried rather than hourly paid, receive significantly higher pay than the police officers, have their own offices or cubicles, wear distinct insignia on their uniforms, and participate in regular management meetings with the Deputy Chief all support a finding of supervisory status.

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