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Curran Details Next Steps for New Unionization Election in Email to Students

Students involved in Harvard's student unionization effort rally in Harvard Yard in November.
Students involved in Harvard's student unionization effort rally in Harvard Yard in November. By Ellis J. Yeo
By Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Molly C. McCafferty, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard’s Director of Labor and Employee Relations Paul R. Curran sent an email to University affiliates Monday discussing the University’s preparations for the April student unionization election.

Curran’s email follows an NLRB announcement Friday that a second election to determine whether eligible graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants may collectively bargain will be held on April 18 and 19.

In his email, Curran outlined which students would be eligible to vote in the upcoming election. The basis for inclusion on the voter list remain the same as the original criteria which the University, the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers, and the National Labor Relations Board negotiated in 2015, when the unionization process began.

The interpretation of these criteria, as well as the accuracy of the voter list, was a point of contention in the 2016 unionization election. HGSU-UAW successfully argued that the 2016 voter list was inadequate to the NLRB, which mandated the second election in January.

After negotiations over when the new list should be generated, the NLRB determined that the final voter list will be based on the March 12 payroll. Harvard will begin to contact eligible voters in mid-February.

Curran said that the University plans to send email updates to students on the voter list along with information about the voting process and polling locations. These reminders will continue until the dates of the election.

Curran also encouraged eligible students to vote, echoing previous statements by the University. Harvard has not taken an official position on whether graduate students should form a union, but has encouraged voters to read both pro- and anti-unionization material in its communications.

“Everyone who is eligible to vote should vote, because the election will be decided only by those who cast ballots, just like any political election. This means that if you are in the bargaining unit that the HGSU-UAW proposes to represent, the outcome of this election will affect you whether or not you vote,” Curran wrote.

—Staff writer Shera S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @saviyonah.

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