A Harvard Law School internal investigation concluded that the majority of complaints made by Law School custodians in September—which included claims of language discrimination and excessive workload—could not be “substantiated.”
In a statement reporting the findings, which the University sent to union representatives, the Law School additionally agreed to meet with workers to clarify rules and procedures, and assured them that custodians will not be required to improve their English.
While representatives for the custodians said they are happy with the Law School’s push to clarify procedure, they said that there are still points of contention between the Law School and the custodians. In particular, union members said they stand by the charges of administrator misconduct and excessive custodial workload alleged in the September letter.
“We still believe there was inappropriate behavior by the second shift supervisor,” said Wayne M. Langley, director of higher education for the Service Employees International Union Local 615, the union which represents custodial workers. According to Langley, the administrator raised her fist in the air and shook it menacingly at workers.
Langley also said he believed the University’s investigation—which the statement said took into account multiple eye-witness accounts—was not “thorough.”
“There were three witnesses, and they took the word of one. Why would they do that? That isn’t acceptable—it doesn’t cut the mustard,” Langley said.
“The overwhelming weight of the evidence established that the supervisor only raised an issue about one particular incident involving a [single] custodian,” read the University statement. “The supervisor in question also recommended one of the custodians who raised this complaint for promotion.”
The statement also indicated that the University found that custodians’ complaints about an unfair workload were unfounded.
“There is no indication that supervisors will ‘follow’ FMO custodians in the future or that workloads are so prohibitively heavy as to prevent the taking of breaks,” the statement reads.
However, Langley said that Harvard’s findings on this issue were “highly misguided.”
“Workers are saying that there is so much work that they have to work through their breaks and lunch because they are afraid they won’t finish it all,” Langley said. “[The University is] saying that there is no proof, but this is not something that workers would just make up.”
Langley added that the Law School did not adequately address the issue of unjustified transfers, though it did substantiate the claim that two transfers had been made “without providing explanation.”
Both parties called for continued dialogue on the issues. Langley said further discussions will be necessary for Harvard and the union to come to an agreement.
“We are hoping to resolve this very soon,” said Langley. “The sooner we finish this, the sooner we can move on.”
—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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