After three years of negotiations, the executive board of the Harvard University Guards' Union agreed on a contract with University officials on June 25. The entire union will likely ratify the contract when they meet on July 9, union members said.
Still, some members of the union said they are not pleased with the contract, but accepted it because they saw it as the University's final offer. The contract was agreed upon with the University on June 23 after two days of intense final discussion.
"The bottom line was that after Harvard presented their last and final offer, we had to accept it," said a source familiar with the negotiations. "What finally did it was that our backs were against the wall. They told us point blank at the table that they weren't giving anything better," the guard said.
Even with the new contract, the guards will not be eligible for raises until four years from now.
But the contract provides an alternative to the buy-out they has been offered in the past, under which, in return for their resignation, they would have received six months pay plus two weeks pay for every year they have worked as a guard if they have been a guard for over 10 years.
University spokesperson Joe Wrinn praised the ageement for its fair treatment of the guards.
"We can confirm the union's statement that the University has reached a tentative settlement pending ratification by vote of the union," he said. "We think it's a fair deal."
But Guards' Union Vice President Robert Travers said he was still dissatisfied with the University's treatment of the guards.
"My goals are that the university will treat us like human beings and not like slaves," Travers said. "They do treat us like slaves, and they don't recognize us."
"I've been working here going on 11 years, and I haven't gotten a raise since 1995," one guard said. "Harvard should be embarrassed. There isn't a person that works here who doesn't get a raise."
"If I quit at 54, it will be hard to find another job," the guard said. "They're going to tell us what the University is offering and say either vote for it or you're out on the street."
Many guards said they were also frustrated with the negotiating process. Many were angry with Union President Stephen G. McCombe for not keeping them updated as to the progress of the negotiations, one guard said.
"It's been a tough three years of trying to get a contract," said the same guard. "It's been a strain on everyone in the union having a situation without a contract. Some of the [University officials] are really heartless, but not the people at the negotiating table. Am I happy with this? No, but it's the best we could do."
Many guards said they were dissatisfied with the fact that they have been employed by the university for many years, and yet have not gained the
"I grew up at Harvard," said one guard unionmember. "It was a very family oriented place.Today it is a very corporate Harvard, and it'svery disappointing."
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