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Harvard’s security guards have earned union recognition after a “strong majority” of the guards indicated they were in favor of unionization.
AlliedBarton—the contractor that employs Harvard’s guards—and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) reached an agreement permitting the guards to organize in November.
Once the agreement was reached, all guards had the option of signing an authorization card stating that they wanted to be part of the union and wanted to bargain for wages through the union, according to Lauren Jacobs, the director of organizing at SEIU Local 615. Jacobs said that well over 50 percent of the guards signed the cards.
A neutral arbiter then looked at the cards and certified their legitimacy, checking that all signers were AlliedBarton employees at Harvard, Jacobs said. The arbiter completed the certification on Dec. 19.
AlliedBarton was not involved in the process, according to AlliedBarton spokesman Larry Rubin.
This is the first time since the University outsourced their jobs two years ago that Harvard’s security guards have been allowed to unionize.
Harvard’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) made unionization for the guards one of its primary focuses this year, according to Adaner Usmani ’08, a SLAM member.
“We have received tremendous support from students and others on Harvard’s campus for our efforts and we want to thank them for their support,” said Najeb Hussein, a security officer at Harvard University, in the SEIU press release. “We are looking forward to being a part of SEIU Local 615 along with Harvard’s janitors and property service workers.”
Harvard once employed its security guards directly, and those guards enjoyed membership in the Harvard University Security, Parking, and Museum Guards Union. But the University gradually outsourced its guards because of financial losses, a process completed in 2004. To fill the void, Harvard subcontracted with Security Services Incorporated—now AlliedBarton—which did not permit its Harvard employees to unionize.
The guards will now select a bargaining committee, probably by the beginning of February. The bargaining committee with then sit down with AlliedBarton to discuss a “fair contract,” Jacobs said.
—Staff writer Stephanie S. Garlow can be reached at email@example.com.
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