Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Am I in the Union? How do I find out?

Almost all staff in grades 47-56 who are overtime-eligible (non-exempt) Harvard employees performing office, library, laboratory, and other technical jobs in Massachusetts are included in HUCTW (also known as the “bargaining unit”). Non-exempt staff based at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC are also included. All staff members who are part of the bargaining unit are eligible for Union-negotiated benefits. However you are not an official HUCTW member until you sign a membership card . In the first few months of your employment at Harvard, Union representatives will be in touch to say “Hello” and to give you the opportunity to sign up. If you would like to talk to an HUCTW representative about membership now, please contact us .

Do I have to join? If I don’t join do I save any money? What’s the advantage of joining?

HUCTW is not what is sometimes called a “Union shop,” where all eligible workers must join the Union. However, because our Union benefits include financial programs which all bargaining unit members may access, all Union-eligible workers must either sign a membership card or pay “fair share” fees. These fees are identical in amount to monthly Union dues, and are deducted in the same way. Since paying these fees is a condition of employment at the University, you will not save money by not joining the Union. By paying Union dues instead of the (identical) fair-share fee, you can vote in elections, run for office, and help ratify our negotiated contracts. Additionally, higher numbers of members show our strength both to the University and the world at large. Approximately 98% of Union-eligible members sign membership cards. The remaining 2% sign fair share cards.

What are the current dues, and where do they go?

You can always find the latest dues rates on the bottom half of the online membership card: These rates are set by our national parent Union, The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) each year on January 1st, and the rate is the same for all its member Unions nationwide. AFSCME bases dues rates on the average pay increases of all its members across the country. Union dues are used to support the work of the Union at different levels–nationally, regionally, and locally.

What’s in the contract?

Lots. Our contract is comprised of two books — the Agreement and the Personnel Manual. These books describe the HUCTW salary increase program and benefits, as well as detailing the policies, protections, and programs Harvard and HUCTW have agreed to over the years. Please contact us if you would like hard copies of these booklets.

Please note that non-Union (Exempt) staff have their own personnel manual online, which is very different. It is important to be sure you and your supervisor are consulting the correct policies.

Who do I contact if I have a concern or question?

There are many people who can help you, including local Union reps from your particular school or department, as well as experienced Union staff (also known as “organizers”). Please call or email our office to get the name of a local rep or Union office staff member who works with your department.

What happens if I ask the Union for help?

Most employees have questions and concerns about work at some point in their careers, and it’s always best to ask for help as early as possible. We can work with you confidentially to help clarify contract and University policy questions, and we can offer behind-the-scenes coaching to help support conversations you want to have with a supervisor or co-worker. And of course, HUCTW will formally support you through any official problem-solving or disciplinary process, should one arise. All conversations are confidential, and you are always in the driver’s seat on next steps. Learn more about the programs and services we offer on our website.

How can I take advantage of Union-negotiated programs and funds?

Over its 30+ year history HUCTW has developed many programs to support the needs of the membership: we have a Childcare Fellowship to help with childcare costs, an Education Fund to help with the cost of courses not covered by Harvard’s other education programs, and a Transportation Fund to help with unusually high parking costs. We also have special 0% loans for rental transition and personal emergencies. The eligibility requirements and deadlines for each of these programs is posted on their respective webpages, which you can access through the Funds and Loans section of the HUCTW website.

The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Tuition Reimbursement (TRP) programs are HUCTW-negotiated programs, but are managed by Harvard. You can find information about those on the TAP section of the Harvard HR website.

You can find information about the HUCTW copay reimbursement program, on the Reimbursement Programs section of the Harvard HR site.

What is the Union working on these days?

Our Union is always busy. We’re helping individual members, and also looking at University-wide work issues that affect many or all of us. Issues of healthcare, fair wages, working conditions/hours, flexibility and work-life balance are always in focus.

Can I get involved?

Please do! HUCTW is its members, and we encourage involvement and activism at all levels. We hold local, informal lunchtime meetings to update our fellow members about ongoing work — a favorite way for members to be in touch — and of course we’re in touch regularly by email. If you’d like to talk to us about getting more involved, contact us.

I’ve seen Union posters or buttons -– how can I get those?