Harvard’s graduate student union announced that it would strike if its negotiators could not reach a contract with the University by Dec. 3. The deadline, which falls on the final day of classes for the fall term, means a potential strike would begin during reading and finals period, giving the University and union negotiators almost two months to come to an agreement before the start of spring classes. A strike authorization vote the union conducted last month garnered 90 percent support, and the union held two town hall meetings to update its members on the status of negotiations and make recommendations to student workers on how to navigate teaching and research responsibilities if a strike were to go forward.
We support the decision of Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers members to strike. We reaffirm our precedent in support of the union taking all appropriate action necessary to provide their members with an economically secure basis on which to live while at the University. We recognize that the decision to strike is no casual matter. It entails a considerable economic burden for strikers and potentially serious academic disruption for non-union students. During this time, we encourage professors and classes to be transparent in making their contingency plans known to students so we can best prepare ourselves in the event the strike goes forward.
Critically, we think it’s important to note that lack of progress on particularly difficult issues doesn’t necessarily mean that both sides aren’t negotiating in good faith. Even under the shadow of the potential upcoming strike, it’s important to encourage both sides to continue pursuing negotiations in good faith, even under the shadow of the potential upcoming strike. We also hope that these negotiations will not be stalled by the National Labor Relations Board’s proposed rule that could eliminate graduate student unions.
A strike is a drastic measure, and the union’s decision to threaten one seems to us suggestive of a loss of trust in the University’s desire to negotiate a fair settlement. We do not have access to the private back-and-forth of the negotiations and are therefore not in a position to make that judgement for ourselves.
With that said, we believe that it is incumbent upon the University in the coming weeks to offer tangible proof to the union’s bargaining committee of its desire to negotiate in good faith and arrive at an outcome that is acceptable to both parties. We recognize that such negotiations can be fraught by nature. And while we expect concessions to be made on both sides, as is necessary in any such complex contract negotiations, we hope that the union will continue to faithfully represent its members in the pursuit of a fair contract.
Ultimately, both sides must come together in a productive and fair manner for all involved so that union workers can be guaranteed a fair, secure livelihood for the duration of their tenure at the University.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.