The Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) and the University have announced contingency plans for preserving an annual salary increase this year in case other negotiations bog down.
If the union and the University do not conclude a salary agreement by the time Harvard's fiscal year begins in July, annual employee raises will be paid, retroactively starting 60 days after such an agreement is reached.
The joint statement, released by Harvard and HUCTW last week, was made public because union members have been uncertain about the status of the annual salary raises, said chief University negotiator John T. Dunlop.
"People, like our members, who don't earn a lot of money, could be very worried if they thought they might miss a paycheck," said HUCTW head Kris Rondeau.
Labor experts said the most recent joint statement seemed to be an indicator of progress in the contract discussions that have been going on since February. Both the union and the University have been publicly silent about the status of the negotiations--except for the occasional joint statements they have released.
According to the joint statement, the contract negotiations between the University and HUCTW "are proceeding constructively and at a good pace."
"The issuing of joint statements is not one that happens typically, and it is generally a positive sign," said Assistant Professor of Business Administration Charles C. Heckscher, a labor expert.
He said salary increase and evaluation issues "could create a lot of tensions and divisiveness" and added that a joint statement "is a good mechanism to reduce tension when they're working for mutual gains."
Despite the agreement on when this year's raises will be paid, Rondeau said the way in which salaries are set would definitely be changed in the course of the negotiations.
According to the joint statement, performance evaluation procedures will not be altered from past years' guidelines--although that could change during the negotiations.
Theoretically, the supervisors' evaluations are used to determine employees' annual raises, said Rondeau. Increases are called meritbased, but raises are usually given across the board, she said.
"A lot of people are waiting to see what happens regarding the salary increases," said Langdell Library assistant Eric Rosenboroegh.
`Antiquated and Unfair'
A HUCTW member, Rosenboroegh called the current salary procedure "antiquated and unfair." Because large bureaucracies are involved in determining the increases, "your raise is being decided by people who don't even know you," he said yesterday.