Union Sends Holiday Cards, Pushes for New Contract
As more than 4,600 of Harvard’s non-faculty employees face the prospect of a new year without a new contract, the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers is taking a holiday-themed approach to its stalled negotiation process.
On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of employees wrote holiday cards addressed to University President Drew G. Faust in which they shared season’s greetings and requests for the Harvard administration to support a proposed contract for HUCTW—the union which represents University librarians, secretaries, lab technicians, and other employees.
“This is definitely our first use of glitter glue,” HUCTW Director Bill Jaeger said. “It’s been really cool to see how our members have been thoughtful and creative about it.”
Jaeger said that the cards included photographs of coworkers, family members, and pets, original humorous cartoons, and even quotations from William James, Dean Acheson, and Abraham Lincoln.
Negotiations have made little progress since June 30, when HUCTW’s contract was originally scheduled to expire.
Because Harvard and HUCTW failed to reach an agreement on a new contract, both sides agreed to keep the terms of the old contract in effect until a resolution could be reached.
“It’s kind of like nothing has worked exactly right...in the past eight or nine months,” Jaeger said.
Despite the delayed contract negotiations, Jaeger stressed that HUCTW members still have great respect for Faust.
“A lot of our members like to feel that there’s a special and meaningful connection between President Faust and the hardworking staff,” Jaeger said, adding that the cards were meant to “renew that connection.”
Andrew Williston, a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Comparative Zoology and a member of HUCTW, said that his primary goal in writing a card was to share “warm holiday wishes.”
“As a university, I think we’re kind of a family,” Williston said.
Employing a similar strategy to raise awareness, the Kennedy School Progressive Caucus prepared a giant card signed by HUCTW supporters, which will be delivered to Faust along with HUCTW’s other cards.
“We found that there was sort of a striking lack of awareness on campus,” said Caucus member and Kennedy School student Alexander “Alexi” White.
The group collected close to one hundred signatures on the card, according to White. According to White, the card contained no specific request for a deal, but rather for recognition of HUCTW’s contributions to the University, and the Caucus’ hope for a “fair and equitable agreement.”
“We study these sorts of issues,” White said. “We wanted to...bring what we learned in the classroom and show people that it’s also what’s happening all around us.”
—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.