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After months of impasse, Harvard security guards voted last week to ratify a contract offer from Securitas, which employs around 300 contracted security workers who are stationed across the school.
Union members voted 122-101 to accept Securitas’ latest offer, ending a prolonged labor dispute that at points pitted workers against the leadership of their own union, 32BJ Service Employees International Union. Guards voted down a previous contract offer earlier this year.
The contract — which will run through November 2025 — introduces pay raises for all guards, with higher increases for more senior-level guards. Under the new deal, guards will be able to carry over unused personal days from the previous year. It will also make Juneteenth a paid holiday and establish a Labor Management Committee to address work-related issues.
Around 74 percent of union members turned out to vote in the election.
The results came despite opposition from some members of the union’s eight-person bargaining committee, which is elected to represent general members in negotiations. Some on the committee called on workers to vote “no,” hoping to get a better offer.
Bargaining committee member Arun K. Malik denounced the contract offer as a tactic designed to pit union members against one another by stratifying wages within a tiered framework. He said the proposal to pay higher-level guards more money encouraged them to vote in favor of the deal, without regard for some of their colleagues.
“It’s unfortunate that Securitas put forth a union-busting proposal that will guarantee that the union will be divided for the next four years,” Malik said Monday.
Securitas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.
Union members who voted “yes” on the new contract said they saw the offer from Securitas as a significant improvement from the previous one, which was rejected in January.
Union member Aldilcon C. Andrade said that he was “very happy” about the new deal.
“Last time I did vote no, but when they gave the new proposal, I voted yes immediately because the raise is really significant,” he said.
“I just had a newborn baby, so this contract is really great because my child also gets free health care,” he added.
Kumar S. Dangi, a member of 32BJ’s bargaining committee, said “lingering” without a contract any longer would “jeopardize our members.”
“You should not be that greedy,” he added. “You have to get it done.”
Roxana Rivera, the executive vice president of 32BJ SEIU, said that the contract offer represents “the best that we could achieve in this bargaining cycle.”
“We do believe it’s a strong agreement for our members. It protects their health care, it gives them well-deserved wage increases, and there’s even some new benefits in this agreement,” she said.
Malik said guards may still demonstrate around Commencement, when massive crowds are expected to flood Cambridge for two ceremonies that will honor Harvard’s Class of 2022 and the Classes of 2021 and 2020, respectively.
“I believe the bargaining committee is still not happy,” he said. “But of course, we’re going to have to wait another four years before we can reopen several issues.”
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