Arboretum Employees Sign Petition in Support of HUCTW

A group of sixteen members of the Service Employees International Union Local 615 voiced support for the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers’ position in its contract negotiations in a letter sent to University President Drew G. Faust and Deputy Director of Labor Relations Susannah P. Scannell last Thursday.

The 16 union members who signed the petition are grounds crew workers at the Arnold Arboretum, a Harvard arboretum that employs both HUCTW and SEIU workers.

Nima Samimi, a grounds crew worker at the Arboretum and the SEIU shop steward, initiated the idea of sending the petition to show support for coworkers in HUCTW.

“My interest and my concern in starting this petition was in building solidarity to strengthen the connection of the unions at Harvard,” Samimi said.

HUCTW is currently engaged in its longest ever contract negotiations with the University. While the old contract between both sides expired July 1 of last year, the terms of a new contract have yet to be decided.

When asked for comment, a University spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement that the University will maintain its focus on resolving the negotiations through mediation.

“The University has successfully negotiated agreements with seven other unions at Harvard over the past two years and remains committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to employees represented by the HUCTW and to employees across the University as a whole,” the spokesperson said.

Wayne M. Langley, director of higher education for the SEIU Local 615, said that while his organization supports HUCTW’s position in the labor negotiations, it has not officially played any role in the negotiating process.

HUCTW Director Bill Jaeger said that all the unions representing Harvard workers have close relationships with one another and that other unions have expressed support during the ongoing negotiations.

“The efforts in solidarity between our workers have really only gotten better over the years, and I think that’s due to a lot of careful listening to each other and collaborative work to be sure that our strategic ideas are well-aligned,” Jaeger said.

—Staff writer Christine Y. Cahill can be reached at christinecahill@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @cycahill.

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