The following letter was sent to the Harvard Presidential Search Committee by the HUCTW Executive Board and HUCTW Staff on October 10, 2017.
Dear Members of the Presidential Search Committee,
Thank you for the opportunity to offer our perspective on the principal challenges facing the University and important qualities to be sought in our new president.
The Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) is a labor union made up of more than 5,000 skilled and committed staff working in every corner of the University — in Harvard’s offices, laboratories, libraries, museums, houses, and clinics. Our union has been negotiating and collaborating constructively with Harvard’s administrative and academic leaders for nearly 30 years. We have negotiated ten agreements that have been recognized, within the University and more broadly, for their thoughtful attention to modern workplace issues, innovative benefit design, and consistent, energetic emphasis on workplace learning, flexibility, and positive union-management relations.
During these nearly three decades of experience, our members and leaders have come to recognize that there are several fundamental principles important to both fair and effective University governance and to continued progress in the Harvard workplace:
- University leaders who want to build on Harvard’s greatness must pursue practices that offer broad and generous inclusion for all citizens in Harvard’s workplace community. To those unfamiliar with Harvard’s inner workings, it is perhaps easy to imagine Harvard staff as peripheral to the University’s core mission of educating future citizens and leaders. Yet HUCTW members are deeply engaged in the core processes of education and discovery. Teaching, learning, and research at Harvard could not occur without the integral contributions of Harvard staff, union and non-union, at every level. We do our best policy-making and problem-solving when we maintain structures and attitudes that are deeply committed to inclusion, participation, diversity, and democracy across the University.
- The most effective solutions come from determined collaboration and constructive partnership. In a complex and strongly decentralized administrative environment like the one we work in every day, it can be difficult to build consensus, resolve conflicts, and ensure compliance with important institutional goals and values. Yet we know firsthand that the most effective way to address challenging problems is through early and transparent communication between key stakeholders, including staff. It is possible to reach mutually beneficial agreements and generate broad community support if we are prepared to work hard at the business of respectful collaboration and creative compromise. Leaders within the University must be prepared to listen persistently, engage energetically, and celebrate a spirit of mutuality.
- Even the thorniest policy problems can be solved with persistence, research, good will, and creativity. HUCTW and the University have worked well together on tough issues over the years – finding fair and balanced responses to economic challenges, building work-life balance and professional development opportunities into everyday working life, maintaining high-quality, affordable health plans while the national health care system is in crisis. The University’s employee unions are important stakeholders, with unique insight into the needs and aspirations of the Harvard workforce. Our diverse and learned community has within it the people and resources needed to address complicated issues fairly, thoroughly, and innovatively — and set a strong, positive example of a progressive and productive American workplace.
HUCTW leaders and members are proud of what has been accomplished over three Harvard presidencies, working with University administrators and faculty to make the University a great place to work for thousands of staff and their colleagues. Looking forward, we ask the Presidential Search Committee to envision an era of University leadership that further builds on our shared commitments to inclusiveness, collaboration, transparency, and respect, so that together we can thoughtfully navigate future challenges and build a stronger, more united Harvard.
HUCTW EXECUTIVE BOARD
Carrie Barbash, President
Tasha Williams, Vice President
Emily Hankle, Treasurer
Jaime Pepper, Secretary
Amanda Hope Wininger
Susan M Kinsella
Lynn Wang DeLacey