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Harvard Top Employer in Cambridge

By Candice N. Plotkin, Crimson Staff Writer

For the seventh year in a row, Harvard University ranks as the top employer in Cambridge with 10,282 workers, according to the 2005 Cambridge Community Development Department and Cited Employers report.

Trailing Harvard, MIT employs 7,026 workers and the City of Cambridge employs 3,251 workers.

Harvard’s employment sector has risen by over 1,000 workers since 2003, from 8,727 to 10,282 employees.

City Manager Robert W. Healy viewed Harvard’s expanding presence in Cambridge as a vital piece of the Cambridge economy both from a prestige standpoint and as a major employer.

“In addition to Harvard, MIT and the City of Cambridge are also major employers and we can count on the fact that our top four employers would not be moving to the sunbelt or overseas, which represents stability,” said Healy.

Beth C. Rubenstein, Assistant City Manager for Community Development, maintained that Harvard is an integral part of the Cambridge economy but does not stifle its ability to diversify.

“The universities are a major employment sector in Cambridge,” said Rubenstein. “But we also have a diversified economy—including education, health care, government, biotechnology, and information technology.”

Yet some Harvard janitors argued that despite Harvard’s contribution to Cambridge’s economy, it has failed to provide a reasonable quality of life to its workers.

“We recognize that Harvard has the most employees in Cambridge but as Harvard workers, we don’t condone the treatment Harvard gives its workers,” said Daniel Mejia, a janitor in William James Hall. “In spite of being the biggest and most recognized university, there are other universities that have much better salaries than Harvard.”

Members of Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) similarly called upon the university to meet higher standards as an employer.

“As Harvard’s top employer in Cambridge, Harvard has a huge influence not only in Cambridge but also in the greater Boston area,” said Alyssa M. Aguilera ’08, a SLAM member. “It has the opportunity to set precedents not just as the top employer but as the best employer in Cambridge. However, Harvard has been falling behind and SLAM hopes Harvard will change its policies toward workers.”

Harvard Spokesman Joe Wrinn responded that Harvard will not negotiate a contract through the press but urges more holistic considerations of its treatment of workers.

“We set our wages through the collective bargaining process but it is also important to remember that total compensation includes other things besides wages, such as health care plans,” said Wrinn.

—Staff writer Candice N. Plotkin can be reached at cplotkin@fas.harvard.edu.

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