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Harvard Grad Students Union Elects New Bargaining Committee Members, Three Seats Remain Vacant

Bargainfest
Harvard Graduate Students Union marked the launch of their historic bargaining sessions with the University in October 2018 by holding a "Bargainfest" celebration by the John Harvard statue.

Harvard’s graduate student union announced two new members of its bargaining committee on Thursday, adding new faces to the body responsible for contract negotiations with the University.

Statistics Ph.D. candidate Cory W. McCartan and Biostatistics Ph.D. candidate Lee Kennedy-Shaffer were announced as the two new members of Harvard Graduate Students Union – United Automobile Workers’ bargaining committee, according to an email sent to union members by the union’s elections committee. There are now 10 members on the bargaining committee.

McCartan and Kennedy-Shaffer were the only two students to run for five open positions. No vote was held and they won the election by acclamation, according to returning bargaining committee member Rachel J. Sandalow-Ash ’15. As a result, three committee seats remain unfilled.

McCartan wrote in an email that before coming to Harvard, he organized Grinnell College’s Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers and negotiated three contracts while he was an undergraduate there.

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“Now, at Harvard, I hope to use my bargaining experience to help negotiate a strong and fair first contract,” McCartan wrote.

Kennedy-Shaffer said the 2016 strike by the Harvard University Dining Services workers inspired him to run for the bargaining committee.

“I’ve been very impressed with everyone on the bargaining committee and the work that they’ve put in so far,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.

The election came after five members left HGSU’s bargaining committee last spring following graduation or moving away from Cambridge. Of the three vacant seats, one is the spot reserved for a representative from Harvard College. Evan C. MacKay ’19, the former College representative, graduated last spring.

Sandalow-Ash wrote in an emailed statement that even though no undergraduates ran for a bargaining committee position, College students are “heavily involved” in union organizing.

“Our bargaining committee works closely with undergrad student workers, and we are committed to winning a contract that meets the needs of undergrad and grad workers alike,” Sandalow-Ash wrote.

Sandalow-Ash added that returning members are looking forward to welcoming McCartan and Kennedy-Shaffer and will work to bring them “up to speed” on the negotiations.

“We are excited to see the new perspectives that our new bargaining committee members will bring,” she wrote.

Since HGSU and Harvard began negotiations in October 2018, they have come to tentative agreements on a number of proposals including travel reimbursements, health, and safety equipment. They remain deadlocked over central contract issues such as grievance procedures, compensation, and healthcare benefits.

—Staff writer James S. Bikales can be reached at james.bikales@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamepdx.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at ruoqi.zhang@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.

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