Negotiations Update & Activities, March 2023
Negotiations over a new HUCTW-Harvard 2022 – 2024 Agreement have continued on an intense schedule, with multiple half-day sessions over the past two weeks and more intensive sessions scheduled for the coming weeks. Both the union and management teams continue to work with a neutral mediator, and HUCTW negotiators persist in pushing for pay raises that provide our members with meaningful protection against high inflation.
Although union negotiators have repeatedly expressed a willingness to work creatively and consider alternative approaches to address the inflation problem, management negotiators have not made a meaningful move since their last offer in January. This offer doesn’t come close to addressing high inflation rates—which have averaged around 7% over the last year. It is also not competitive with other comparable institutions. The average raise for last year at comparable institutions ranged between 4.8% and 6.3%. Harvard’s offer for a 2022 raise falls below these averages.
During a difficult negotiation like this one, it is extremely important that we as HUCTW members remain strong, unified, and committed in support for our union as we fight for afair and sustainable pay program that honors our contributions to Harvard’s excellence and supports a stable level of economic security for our co-workers and our families. Please do everything that you can to participate in our campaign for a fair raise.
One of the ways that members can help put pressure on University administrators is by asking Harvard faculty to support our efforts. Over the last few weeks, HUCTW members in every school have reached out to faculty in their departments. In response, dozens of faculty have begun sending letters to Harvard administrators asking them to help the University reach a fair pay agreement with HUCTW. In several cases all the faculty in a given department have signed onto one unanimous letter supporting our negotiating goals and in other cases individual faculty or groups of faculty have sent letters to top administrators. In several schools, faculty have added HUCTW pay negotiations to the agenda of upcoming school-wide faculty meetings.
Letters from Faculty Members
Below are five excerpts from the dozens of letters Harvard faculty have sent so far to Harvard administrators in support of HUCTW members and our negotiations [the bolding below is ours for emphasis]:
- “It would be hard to overstate the degree to which our ability to fulfill our academic mission and responsibilities to our students is dependent on our staff support. Our own departmental staff routinely go above and beyond what is expected of them – especially so in the many periods in which we have been short-staffed. I realize there are many competing demands on Harvard’s resources, but I urge you to recognize the invaluable role our support staff play, and to ensure that renumeration for their absolutely central contribution to the functioning of the university is not treated as a point to seek cost savings.”
- “I [have] found myself thinking what a frightening time this must be for anyone in a state of housing precarity. It is heartbreaking to hear that, among other despairs, unionized Harvard staff are struggling to pay rent. Harvard staff! I urge the administration to find a speedy and compassionate resolution to [staff] compensation demands. Harvard is not responsible for inflation and, quite naturally, does not have infinite resources; but the beloved institution does have ineluctable responsibilities of its own.”
- “I hope you will respond generously to the pressures of the current inflationary episode. The burden of inflation falls disproportionately on low and middle income employees who lack the financial buffers that more highly paid members of the community—senior faculty and high-level administrators—can deploy to ride the inflation wave with minimal dislocation. For this reason, I hope you will support the HUCTW position in their efforts to secure compensation for the erosion of their real wages over the last year and a half and protection against the continuing, even if moderating, inflation that is expected for this year. It is not only the fair thing to do, it will reap rewards for the institution in the form of enhanced loyalty and effort.”
- “Our administrators and staff are the glue that hold our department together. When I first arrived at Harvard…I had serious doubts about whether I would find a home here. But it was our staff members who made me feel most welcome and part of the Harvard community. I would not have been as successful a teacher had I not found that sense of belonging that our staff cultivates on campus everyday…While I’ve been heartened to see that the University has been flexible in negotiating remote work schedules, the inflexibility on a fair pay increase is troubling…We need to invest in our people. I urge the university to support my friends and colleagues who do the hard, necessary work of transforming our university into a true learning community.”
- “I want to express how essential my [HUCTW] co-workers are to the department’s functioning, both its day-to-day workings as well as its most ambitious undertakings. They are students’ first and last port of call, guiding them through the curriculum and providing answers when they need them most. They are invaluable to our faculty, who rely on staff’s knowledge, organization, and labor in internal and external matters. They manage both our past and future, staying in touch with alumni while inviting new members into our department through our concentration numbers, graduate admissions, visiting speakers, and faculty hires….The financial burdens of living near Harvard have increased and continue to grow, and without competitive salary increases to stay ahead of such demands, we risk losing our staff: key personnel who underwrite the University’s historic provision of exemplary education and research.”
If you would like to help by reaching out to faculty in your department, please let us know and we can provide you with a sample letter and any other materials you need.
Other Ways You Can Help Support Negotiations
Here are some other ways that you can help put constructive pressure on University administrators to help us reach a fair contract:
- Join the Mass Hall informational picket. We picket every Tues/Weds/Thurs from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm in front of Massachusetts Hall in Harvard Yard. Also, please talk to your HUCTW organizers if you want to schedule informational picketing in your part of the campus. If you are unsure who your union organizers are, please email us at email@example.com.
- Write to your school Dean or other top Harvard leaders about your experience with high inflation and why you need and deserve a fair raise. Learn more.
- Limit your work efforts to only your paid work hours. From union meetings and surveys, it is clear that many HUCTW members work extra hours beyond their paid work duties without submitting for additional pay, providing the University with potentially thousands of hours of free labor. The central idea of this initiative is that HUCTW members are encouraged to work their regular paid schedules, strictly applying state and federal laws and the provisions of the HUCTW-Harvard Agreement around overtime pay and extra compensation.
- Be visible with your union support. Use a an HUCTW background on Zoom, add an HUCTW graphic and/or a link with information to your email signature, hang HUCTW posters in your workspace. It’s a simple thing that all of us can do to help create constructive pressure across the entire campus. Download posters, backgrounds, graphics here.
- More ways to help coming soon!
Please reach out to your HUCTW organizer if you have any questions or ideas you would like to discuss. If you are unsure who your HUCTW organizer is, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.