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For the second time in two years, Harvard’s graduate student workers will trade teaching and research for the picket lines as their union begins a three-day strike at 6 a.m. Wednesday, with picketing to set to start at 9 a.m. at Harvard Yard and the Longwood campus.
Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers failed to reach an agreement with the University Tuesday in the final bargaining session ahead of a strike deadline it set earlier this month, union leadership announced in an email to members Tuesday night.
“We did see some progress in today’s mediated session, but not enough to avoid a strike,” union leaders wrote, arguing that Harvard “refuses to engage” on its longtime key demands: compensation, non-discrimination procedures, and agency shop, which would require all student workers represented by HGSU-UAW to pay dues to the union.
The strike announcement comes hours after Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 released a package of proposals the University shared with the union Tuesday. The proposals include major increases to compensation and new measures for cases of discrimination and harassment, but do not fully meet union demands on either front or address agency shop.
Each day of the strike, the union will host rallies either in the Yard or Science Center Plaza. Picket lines will be set up in the Yard and Longwood from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m and virtual pickets will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Throughout the week, the union will also hold events, including a block party on Thursday and a “5k Run for Real Recourse” on Friday.
In addition to official union events, the Student Labor Action Movement — a Phillips Brooks House Association labor advocacy organization — is coordinating an undergraduate walkout on Thursday at 11:35 a.m. to join the picket lines at noon.
Though his email was sent before the official strike announcement, Garber pledged that Harvard would continue bargaining in good faith.
“The University remains committed to our student workers and to the successful conclusion of these negotiations,” Garber wrote.
Union leadership plans to send a counterproposal to Harvard ahead of their next bargaining session on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., according to HGSU-UAW President Brandon J. Mancilla.
“We are willing to not only just present our proposal, but maybe identify places for compromise within it,” Mancilla said.
Harvard and HGSU-UAW have not scheduled additional bargaining sessions after Wednesday, but both sides say they will continue to communicate throughout the strike.
Amid launching the three-day strike, union leadership alluded to the possibility of a second strike later this term if negotiations stagnate.
“If and when another strike is necessary, the [bargaining committee] will call a second strike with input from you and your stewards,” they wrote. “For now, we need to make sure that Harvard feels the impact of this strike. This strike needs to be as powerful as possible.”
The strike authorization vote that passed overwhelmingly earlier this semester automatically authorizes the bargaining committee to call additional strikes before Dec. 31, Mancilla added.
Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on the possibility of a second strike.
—Staff writer Cara J. Chang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CaraChang20.
—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeimeiXu7.
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