Contract Negotiations Underway Between HUCTW and Harvard

Negotiations are underway between the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers and the University, according to HUCTW Director Bill Jaeger. The new contract is scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Negotiating teams from both sides began to meet for seven to eight hours each week starting about three weeks ago, and will continue to do so until an agreement is reached, Jaeger said.

“We’re trying to build a negotiating process that can really build on those tough issues effectively,” Jaeger said.

A letter from HUCTW leadership to its members on Apr. 20 detailed the “four critical subjects” for negotiations to cover, including a salary increase program, health care, a bargaining unit to clarify questions about which jobs are included in HUCTW, and issues surrounding policy and language that have arisen since the last contract was ratified.

The union’s negotiating team includes five representatives and four officers elected from the membership, in addition to a number of the union’s professional staff who are experienced negotiators. The University is represented by labor relations staff and several associate deans from the different schools, Jaeger said.

Jaeger declined to comment on how far the two sides are from an agreement, but said that he did not anticipate a quick resolution due to “tough issues.”

“We want the whole community to see the process and understand what’s happening and what the Union and the University are trying to do together, but we’re also at a preliminary juncture,” Jaeger said. “The Union and the University share a commitment to protect the process.”

Harvard’s Director of News and Media Relations Kevin Galvin wrote in an email to the Crimson that the University’s labor relations team is working effectively with HUCTW leadership.

“We are confident that an agreement will be reached that benefits both the HUCTW and the rest of the Harvard community,” Galvin wrote. Galvin declined to comment further on the negotiations.

Library assistant and HUCTW member Jeffrey W. Booth said that job security is an important topic that has been overlooked in the negotiation process.

“I personally think it’s [negotiation] a great opportunity to make improvements for us,” Booth said. “But it has to start with job security. We need to be a lot more organized and a lot more aggressive than we have been.”

The question of job security has been especially salient for library workers after Harvard University Library Executive Director Helen Shenton’s Jan. 19 announcement that the library’s reorganization would include staff reductions. Joint Councils between the University and HUCTW were formed in February to discuss the reorganization, but Booth said that these councils cannot do the job of contract negotiations.

“They talk a lot and nothing ever really happens,” Booth said.

Booth said that there was “irritation and anger” among the library workers who knew that potential layoffs were not part of the contract negotiations. For most Harvard workers, layoffs are the chief concern, Booth said.

However, according to Jaeger, the focus of the negotiations was determined primarily based on input from HUCTW membership gathered from an online survey and “lunchtime meetings” with union leadership.