Harvard Human Resources announced certain benefit increases Monday afternoon for members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, despite stalled contract negotiations between the University and union. In a letter sent to administrators and posted to Harvard’s labor relations website, Vice President for Human Resources Marilyn Hausammann wrote that the University has informed HUCTW that “joint funds”—which include benefits for some employees’ child care, transportation, and education—will increase by ten percent for the 2013 fiscal year.
In the letter, Hausammann wrote that administrators “intend to do all we can to ensure pay and benefits continuity for our employees represented by the union,” referencing the “spirit of our long and mutually-productive relationship [with HUCTW].”
The contract that currently governs the relationship between Harvard and HUCTW, which represents more than 4,600 of Harvard’s non-faculty staff, was scheduled to expire by July 1st. Negotiators began meeting in early April but still have not agreed on a new contract, largely due to disagreements over salary increases, health care, and the makeup of the collective bargaining unit.
According to Hausammann’s letter, funding for child care in particular has been running out since the contract’s expiration date passed.
“While details have still to be finalized, we expect that the majority of the funding increase announced today will go toward child care scholarships for HUCTW members, ensuring this important benefit is fully funded for this academic year,” the letter stated.
University spokesperson Kevin Galvin declined to comment on the letter.
HUCTW Director Bill Jaeger said that the announcement was “not really a breakthrough,” since the University and union had already agreed to extend the terms of the existing contract until a new one was ratified.
He did say that the increase, while “fairly routine,” is important for many HUCTW members who use the “joint funds.”
“These programs are extremely important to the people who participate in them, and it’s very much the right thing that we should keep these programs going even while we’re having a negotiating dispute,” Jaeger said. “[The Joint Funds increase] is a good approach to this very minor question.”
— Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.