Still Waiting, Union Pens Letters to Top Deans
Members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, which represents more than 4,600 non-faculty employees, delivered signed posters and letters on Thursday to the offices of 34 administrators regarding the union’s months-long contract negotiation with the University.
Recipients included deans across the University and members of the University’s central administration, such as President Drew G. Faust, Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp, and other vice presidents.
The letter expressed disappointment in the University’s positions on health care and salary increases and accused Harvard of taking a “narrow and negative stance” in the negotiations that have dragged on since June. The message closed by asking recipients to “please use the powers of your office to steer the negotiations in a more constructive direction.”
The union also gave administrators large posters bearing 3,600 signatures and an accompanying letter. Roughly 3,000 of the signatures came from HUCTW members, while the remaining 600 belonged to non-union “exempt” workers on campus, students, and other supporters.
The contract that currently governs the relationship between the University and union members expired on June 30, but because negotiators could not reach a deal, the old contract will remain in effect until it can be replaced. HUCTW released an open letter in July that expressed concerns similar to those raised in this week’s letter.
HUCTW organizer Donene M. Williams, a member of the union’s negotiating team, said that the union was proud of the number of signatures on the poster and that she hoped the show of support would push negotiations in a productive direction.
“Each of those [signatures] represented a conversation we had with a worker,” said Williams, a former president and treasurer of HUCTW. “Each of the people who signed it really meant it.”
HUCTW Director Bill Jaeger has said that the 1992 contract negotiation, one of the longest processes in recent memory, lasted about six months. Jaeger could not be reached for comment for this article.
Williams said that the recipients of the statement were people who could have a “moral influence” on the University.
Harvard Director of News and Media Relations Kevin Galvin said after receiving the letter, “We recognize that the men and women who belong to the HUCTW are key contributors to the University’s mission and we are committed to reaching an agreement that will continue to provide them with fair and equitable wages and benefits.”
HUCTW member Paul A. Gregoire, a media services technician at Harvard Law School and member of the delegation dispatched to Law School deans, said that he was hopeful that the statement would help move negotiations toward a conclusion.“
The University administration has not been very positive in response, so we’re hoping this will cause an upgrade in consciousness amongst the administration so that they realize that they’re dealing with a mass of people, not just a few people around a [negotiating] table.”
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