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‘A Nice End of an Era’: Harvard Unions to Merge After Years-Long Push

Harvard's Labor and Employee Relations office.
Harvard's Labor and Employee Relations office. By Angela Dela Cruz
By Sophia C. Scott and Claire Yuan, Crimson Staff Writers

After at least three failed attempts over more than six years, the Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union has successfully voted to merge with the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers.

In mid-August, HUSPMGU voted and ratified the Inclusion Agreement, which brings the approximately 80-member union under the umbrella of HUCTW. When the merger takes effect on Oct. 1, it will give HUSPMGU members “parity on pay and phased-in coverage under HUCTW benefits, policies, and protections,” per a Sep. 8 email to HUCTW members.

The agreement features four annual pay raises that will increase hourly wages by a total of $4.75 — a 27 percent increase from the current minimum wage. The first raise, which will up rates by 2 dollars per hour, will be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2021.

The merger will also provide new job security protections and one additional week of vacation time per year for all members with fewer than 10 years of service.

“We’re thrilled with where things are right now and where they’re heading next,” said Danielle R. Boudrow, HUCTW recording secretary. “We’re so, so happy to have finally reached an agreement with the University.”

HUSPMGU has been striving to become a part of HUCTW, a larger union with roughly 5,000 members, for more than half a decade.

Boudrow said the breakthrough in negotiations came over the summer with the help of an independent mediator “who was very skillful and helpful” in coordinating an agreement between the two unions and the University.

She noted that the comparative size of HUSPMGU relative to HUCTW was a driving factor in the push for the merger. Boudrow said the merger will allow HUSPMGU members to benefit from HUCTW’s “professional” and “full-time staff.”

“Being such a small union has its limitations in terms of how much power you can exert when you’re in conflict with the University,” Boudrow said. “Being part of a bigger union means they’re part of a much bigger and much more powerful group of people.”

Curt E. Rheault, president of HUSPMGU, also said the merger will afford new opportunities to museum, parking, and security workers due to HUTCW’s larger, union-dedicated staff.

“Now, we’re professionally run instead of a bunch of amateurs running around doing the best they can,” he said.

“If our members are diligent and want to self improve and get a better chance in life and change their trajectory on what their careers look like, they have a lot better shot at doing it,” Rheault added.

Beyond the contract-related benefits of the new deal, Boudrow said the merger will improve “economic justice” among Harvard’s staff.

“HUSPMGU members have been the lowest paid at the University by a lot, and they’re getting a really significant boost in this deal that we’re super excited about that brings them much more in line with other union members at the University and with other HUCTW members,” she said.

“It’s a nice end of an era where the University had this underpaid group, and now they’re gonna have to pay them much more fairly and we’re very excited about it,” Boudrow added.

Rheault expressed optimism that the merger will benefit both union members and the University.

“I’m really hoping it works out for the better of both the union and Harvard that we’re together now, and we can go forward and make it a better work environment — better for Harvard, better for everybody,” he said.

University spokesperson Jason A. Newton did not respond to a request for comment on the merger.

—Sophia Scott can be reached at sophia.scott@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ScottSophia_.

—Claire Yuan can be reached at claire.yuan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.

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UnionizationHUCTW