Union Starts Contract Talks

Harvard and SEIU Local 615 will enter into contract negotiations for custodial workers on Monday at 1 p.m. in the Radcliffe Gym.

SEIU leaders said that one of the primary issues in the coming contract negotiations will be increasing the number of full-time jobs.

“This is a basic right for working people,” SEIU Higher Education Director Wayne M. Langley said. “Full-time jobs are important for a decent quality of life.”

Langley said higher wages for workers will also be an important topic during contract negotiations.

The discussions come while Local 615—which represents custodial workers and security guards—and the University are in arbitration over a contract dispute. Earlier this year, SEIU filed a grievance against the University, saying it violated its contract by not posting job listings properly.


“The University is not following the proper job posting protocol,” Langley said at the time.

The University denied the union’s claim, calling it “[An] issue of interpretation of contract language.”

According to Langley, it could take up to six months to resolve the arbitration.

The University said it is looking forward to a mutually beneficial contract negotiation with Local 615 in the coming months.

“We are proud of the strong relationship that exists between the institution and its unionized workers,” said University spokesman Kevin Galvin. “We are looking forward to a round of contract talks that we hope will be productive for both the University and the people who help to make it one of the world’s premier institutions for research and education.”

These talks come days after the University reached a tentative agreement with UNITE HERE!, which represents Harvard dining hall workers. Both parties praised the terms of that agreement,

saying that it served the interests of both the University and its workers.

Members of the Student Labor Action Movement said that the custodial workers have their support.

SLAM member William P. Whitham ’14 said that custodial workers face inconvenient split shifts and scheduling issues that SLAM hopes will be remedied with the new contract.

“Split shifts [are] a real pain because some people have to commute 45 minutes to get to Harvard and you have to spend a bunch of money,” he said.

Whitham said that Harvard has a duty not only to educate students, but also to treat workers with dignity.

“Harvard has an obligation to treat its workers fairly,” he said. “Not out of any sense of charity, but rather out of a sense of justice.”

He added that he feels the workers’ requests are more than reasonable.

“Harvard is not poor, and we’re not asking for anything really radical,” he said. “Just a fair contract.”

—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at mcook@college.harvard.


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