Lab aides, though crucial to research, discover that it takes union campaigns to get their bosses' attention
BOSTON -- Fifteen years ago, Kristine Rondeau wore a white lab coat and spent her day doing experiments in the physiology and biochemistry departments of Harvard Medical School. Today, her place of work is 67 Winthrop Street in Cambridge, headquarters of the two-year-old Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, which she now heads.

Rondeau's career progression parallels an equally unusual transformation for Harvard, from a typical anti-union university to a model union shop. There and here, technicians have joined the ranks of academic workers trying to cope -- sometimes, through unions -- with the arrival of the modern university and its large, business-oriented atmosphere.

Some 1,000 research technicians are now part of a union at Harvard, where last fall the two sides signed a contract that both sides seem pleased with (see...

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