Mass. Hall VPs To Meet with Protesters

AlliedBarton extends offer, guards deem unsatisfactory

High-level University officials have agreed to meet with students who have been protesting for higher wages for security guards, the University confirmed earlier tonight. 

Coalition members, including those participating in a hunger strike to pressure the University to intervene in the negotiations between AlliedBarton and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 615, have repeatedly criticized both Harvard and AlliedBarton for being unresponsive to their demands.

The meeting, scheduled for tomorrow morning, will include Vice President for Human Resources Marilyn Hausammann, Vice President of Government, Community, and Public Affairs Alan J. Stone, Director of Labor and Employee Relations Bill Murphy, a faculty member, and three students, said Austin S. Guest ’07, a spokesman for the Stand for Security coalition.

During negotiations earlier on Thursday, AlliedBarton,the subcontractor that employs Harvard’s guards, extended an offer to the guards, which they deemed unsatisfactory, according to Lauren L. Jacobs, the director of organizing at SEIU 615.

Officials did not release the details of the offer, but Guest said that the security guards were offered $13 per hour, which he said they thought was insufficient.

The starting wage for AlliedBarton offers is currently $12.68, according to figures released by the Stand for Security Coalition, the group leading the campaign for higher wages. The SEIU is asking for a minimum starting wage of $15 per hour.

The University has maintained it will not involve itself in the negotiations, but agreed Tuesday to honor the students’ request for a meeting to present their grievances.

"We just want to continue the dialogue," said Murphy this evening.

Six students, five who are participating in the hunger strike, met Wednesday with Murphy.

Murphy “said he would take what we said to his supervisors, but it remains to be seen whether anything will come out of the meeting or not,” said Benjamin Landau-Beispiel ’10.

The meeting has resulted in an offer from the University to “issue a statement reaffirming its commitment to the Katz Committee” and allowing the students to weigh in with their opinions, Guest said.

The Katz Committee, formed in 2001, recommended that the University establish a Wage and Benefits Parity Policy requiring that outside contractors must pay their employees wages similar to those received by in-house unionized employees who perform the same work.

In-house security guards currently make $12.87, which is $0.19 more than the $12.67 the AlliedBarton guards make, according to Stand for Security Coalition figures.

The policy was adopted in 2002.

Murphy said the meeting was “open and respectful” but declined to discuss any details.

Students have repeatedly criticized both Harvard and AlliedBarton for being unresponsive to their demands.

“As long as administration refuses to really take our concerns seriously, our campaign will escalate,” said hunger striker J. Claire Provost ’07.

AlliedBarton did not return repeated calls yesterday afternoon.

—Brenda C. Maldonado can be reached at bmaldon@fas.harvard.edu.