News and Events

Negotiations Update: January 2023

We hope you had a restful winter recess. Our contract negotiations are continuing and remain intensive and challenging, with meetings happening every week or more frequently, including on the last day before the holiday break and the first day back.  The biggest difficulty is still, as it has been for several months, about pay increases, but there has been some progress.  

Quick Summary:

  • Negotiators’ efforts and strong HUCTW community pressure outside of the negotiating room (combined with assistance from a skilled mediator) have helped recently to move the negotiations in a better direction on the raise program, but there is more to be done.
  • While HUCTW negotiators are primarily focused on ensuring that raises offer protection against high inflation, Harvard has heavily focused on how its salary offers compare with other employers, arguing that management proposals are highly competitive.
  • HUCTW negotiators have provided Harvard with data that we believe shows that many US employers are delivering 2022 raises above Harvard’s offers. This data is described and linked to below.
  • HUCTW members and leaders will need to maintain and increase constructive pressure on University administrators to reach a fair raise program. Details to follow.

More Detailed Summary

The union negotiating team has continued to press the University for meaningful salary increases, bringing strong data and evidence to the table regarding the negative impact of inflation on members and their families while highlighting HUCTW staff members’ essential contributions and sacrifices over the last 2+ years.  These efforts coupled with the constructive pressure HUCTW members have put on University leaders through rallies, letters, visibility events, and other activities have been successful in moving the University’s recent offers somewhat closer towards a fair pay program, but there is more work left to do.

Since November the negotiating teams have been working with a mediator, Bob Bordone, who has urged us to reframe discussions, identify creative ways to reach our goals, and challenged both Harvard and Union negotiators in productive ways.

During negotiation sessions, it has become clear that there is an important difference in union and management perspectives about factors and criteria upon which pay raises should be based.  HUCTW negotiators put a very high priority on ensuring that HUCTW members maintain a healthy standard of living while battling unusually high inflation. Our negotiators are committed to pay increases that provide meaningful protection against the negative impact of unusually high inflation in 2022 and continuing inflation pressures anticipated for 2023 and 2024.  Management offers currently on the table do not adequately address the inflation problem.

Meanwhile, management representatives are more heavily focused on the question of how their pay offers compare with other employers in the wider job market, asserting that their pay proposals are strongly competitive with or surpassing the increase programs of other employers.

In order to engage in good faith discussions, HUCTW negotiators have carried out our own detailed research on the subject of 2022 pay increases in the regional and national economy. 

Examining broad compensation indices or averages across hundreds of employers—in Massachusetts and nationally, in higher ed and other industries, union and non-union—average salary increases range from about 4.8% to 6.3% for 2022.  In our negotiating team’s view, Harvard’s 2022 offers are not strongly competitive with these averages, nor do they surpass them. You can read more about our employer wage comparison research on the HUCTW website.  

One key point to note is that these are averages – which means that while some employers delivered salary increases below these averages, an approximately equal number of employers delivered salary increases above these averages.  The Pearl Meyer report (which is one of our wage comparison resources) gives us a glimpse into that distribution, with its finding that a quarter of the companies surveyed delivered 2022 salary increases of 6% or higher.

Harvard has the ability to be among this leading group of employers and we feel strongly that, as one of the one of the world’s leading universities, Harvard should be a leading employer.

Although the recent incremental progress we’ve made in pay negotiations comes partly from determined efforts at the negotiating table and mediative assistance, it is clear to all of our negotiators that movement in a positive direction also flows strongly from the energetic engagement of HUCTW members in our campaign to put constructive pressure on Harvard administrators.

HUCTW members have participated brilliantly, with thousands participating in rallies, stand-outs, and tabling events, displaying HUCTW posters in their physical and virtual work spaces, signing on to support statements delivered to top decision makers, and writing to their Deans and Vice Presidents, asking those administrators to show leadership by helping Harvard to reach agreement with HUCTW on a fair raise program. 

Those campaign efforts will continue and grow in the coming weeks. If you are interested in getting more involved or have ideas about increasing visibility and support for HUCTW Negotiations, please talk with HUCTW Organizers for your school or department or email us at huctw.info@huctw.org

Please also reach out to your HUCTW organizers or to huctw.info@huctw.org if you have questions or ideas about any of the above or any aspect of negotiations.