Members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers and student supporters protested outside of Massachusetts Hall all day on Tuesday to urge the University to agree to favorable terms in continuing contract negotiations.
The previous contract between the University and HUCTW—which represents more than 4,600 non-faculty Harvard staff—expired July 1 of last year. Because the two sides have been unable to agree on the details of the new contract, the old contract is still in effect. The two largest points of disagreement in the negotiations involve salary increases and health care benefits.
“The salary increase that the University is holding us at is not good enough,” Linda Kluz, Communications Coordinator at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, said. “It doesn’t even meet the rise in the cost of living.”
At 5:30 p.m., 20 protesters stood outside Mass. Hall, holding signs bearing the message “Invest in the Staff.” Protesters were present all day Tuesday starting at 8:30 a.m., and the group plans to protest at the same time every Tuesday and Thursday until the negotiations are resolved.
“The University is for all of us,” said Susan M. Kinsella, an administrative coordinator in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology department who is also on the executive board of HUCTW. “We don’t want anything except for what we think we deserve as outstanding staff members that help keep the University going.”
In a statement released on Sept. 27, 2012, the University said that wage offers made by the University in negotiations with HUCTW were “clearly consistent with the internal and external job markets.”
The University also said in that statement that its pay to HUCTW members was “very competitive” according to benchmark comparisons with the external market.
People walking through the Yard stopped to speak with the protesters, to learn more about the contract negotiations, or to voice their support.
The Student Labor Action Movement has organized a Solidarity Hour from 4 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, during which SLAM members will stand with the protesters to show their support for the union’s stance in the contract negotiations.
“The lack of respect and dignity for workers is outrageous, especially in a country that has so much prosperity,” Elena F. Hoffenberg ’16, a member of SLAM, said. “It’s very upsetting for me to be a part of a community where workers are being treated in such ways, so I’m doing everything I can to change that fact.”
Other students got involved in the HUCTW protests through the Unite Harvard Wintersession program, which focused on progressive action and activism at Harvard and was sponsored by 14 different student groups. Participants in the program joined the first HUCTW protest last Tuesday.
“I’m standing in solidary with all the HUCTW workers because it makes me angry that Harvard isn’t trying to negotiate,” said Keyanna Y. Wigglesworth ’16, who participated in Unite Harvard.
—Staff writer Christine Y. Cahill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: Jan. 30, 2013
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the date on which the University released a statement defending its wage offers in negotiations with the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers. In fact, that statement came out on Sept. 27, 2012, not this past Thursday.