Our History and Principles


We ratified our Union in June of 1989, but the ideas and work behind organizing Harvard stretch back decades, having grown alongside other progressive movements in 1970s Cambridge and Boston. Self-determination–having a role in determining the conditions of one’s working life–was an obvious and early value, and it’s one we have kept at HUCTW’s core. Along with traditional ideas of solidarity and advocacy, our Union places importance on grassroots organizing, communication, and trainings to help members negotiate their everyday working lives. We also view mutual kindness and respect as values necessary to maintaining this goal.

One of our earliest slogans was “It’s not anti-Harvard to be pro-Union” and that idea is still crucial to us today. We are dedicated to our work, and we want improvements to our jobs to be improvements to the University. Over the years we have found many creative ways to enact this principle. Through collaboration and interest-based bargaining with our faculty and administrative colleagues, we are helping to defeat the notion of a zero-sum game of employees versus employer. Our Constitution and Our Contract are both available on the HUCTW website.

We address larger issues through policy work (both in and outside of contract negotiations) and smaller issues via behind-the-scenes coaching and/or direct advocacy. Our grievance procedure consists of local, hands-on problem solving, aimed at practical outcomes that equitably empower and support employees while still serving the larger mission of Harvard.

Change is a constant at Harvard, and much of HUCTW’s work consists of helping employees maintain a fair and feasible path through this changing landscape. We look forward to continued success, both as Union members and Harvard employees, and we welcome voices and ideas from the entire University community.

Learn more about HUCTW:

“Solidaritas at Harvard” by John Hoerr, from The American Prospect magazine
“…In 1988, against all odds and the great resources of the nation’s wealthiest university, the union won a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election after two previous defeats. In an earlier incarnation as labor law professor, Harvard’s then president, Derek Bok, had championed the right of workers to have unions. But on his own campus, Bok continued a legal fight against HUCTW for months before the NLRB turned down his appeal. Bok then recognized HUCTW, ending a 15-year battle for the hearts of workers historically titled “university servants” who really wanted to be loyal to both union and university–and subject to no master…” MORE>>

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