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Harvard Police Union Files Complaint with National Labor Relations Board

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Harvard’s police union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the University with the National Labor Relations Board Thursday, according to NLRB case records.

In an email obtained by The Crimson, union president Michael J. Allen alleged to members of the Harvard University Police Association on Monday afternoon that the Harvard University Police Department’s leadership violated the union’s contract by unilaterally cutting off officers’ access to a “daily roster” — a schedule that posts officers’ shifts.

“They are not entitled to change past practice at their leisure and we (eboard) will not allow them to do so, without sticking up for our collective bargained rights and past practice,” Allen wrote in his email to union members.

In his email, Allen also speculated that the department’s decision “could be retaliatory,” though he did not specify the impetus for the alleged retaliation.

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Allen declined to comment for this article.

HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment late Tuesday night.

In recent months, HUPD has faced several controversies regarding its treatment of officers, who are members of the police union.

In October 2019, HUPD suspended black officer Josiah Christian after he engaged in a physical altercation with Thomas F. Karns, a white detective, who allegedly called Christian racial and homophobic slurs. At the time, union representatives and the department’s leadership sparred over the details of the incident, and ultimately, HUPA’s executive board condemned the department’s “egregious” decision to suspend Christian, according to a statement it released.

Last month, The Crimson published an investigation that found repeated instances of racism and sexism within HUPD over the past 28 years. In lawsuits, discrimination complaints, and interviews, current and former officers alleged that the department’s leadership disciplines employees differently based on their personal relationships with top department figures as well as retaliates against officers who speak out about the culture within HUPD.

Several days after the investigation, HUPD Chief Francis D. “Bud” Riley announced in an email to department employees that he will launch a review into his department — the fourth formal assessment of HUPD during Riley’s reign as chief of Harvard’s police force.

Student activists called for Riley’s resignation at a rally Saturday.

In his email sent on Monday to HUPA members, Allen wrote he was disappointed Harvard failed to engage with the union to resolve their dispute, leading the union to seek recourse with the federal government.

“Maybe something could have been worked out collectively if we had said meeting(s),” he wrote.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at ema.schumer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.

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