Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

The editorial “An Unexploited Union” misrepresents the contract negotiations between the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers and the University, and it unfairly blames the union for the stall in negotiations.

The editorial misleads readers about the dispute over wages. While HUCTW workers are paid above-average rates for their industry, considering that the Harvard University library system is one of the largest and most prestigious in the world, and considering that many librarians have master’s degrees and Ph.D’s, HUCTW’s pay scales are hardly laudable. In 2011, the lowest pay grade began at only $15.09 an hour, barely above the living wage for the city of Cambridge.

The editorial also fails to mention the largest conflict in the negotiations so far—healthcare. HUCTW has proposed a cost-neutral progressive health care plan, yet the University continues to argue against these practices even though they benefit both workers and the financial health of the university.

It is true that these negotiations have gone on for far too long; months after the previous contract expired, three mediators have had to assist in the contract negotiations. Yet Harvard, not HUCTW, ought to be blamed for this impasse, for it has been unwilling to compromise on wages and healthcare.

Last week, the Cambridge City Council passed a resolution in support of HUCTW stating, “Negotiations that ensure a consistent salary increase program and affordable healthcare solutions for union employees are essential for the sustenance of Cambridge’s local economy, community, and employees therein.” Indeed, even the Crimson supported higher wages for HUCTW just this past October. And today, HUCTW members, students, and community supporters—including U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano—will rally at 5 p.m. in Memorial Church for a fair contract.

The Crimson’s editorial presents an uncritical perspective on the contract negotiation process and needlessly maligns a union that is fighting for decent wages, affordable healthcare, and workplace dignity for its over 4,600 members.

Gabriel H. Bayard '15

Cambridge, Mass.

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