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HAW-UAW Large Unit Votes to Unionize, 93% In Favor

Non-tenure track faculty members at Harvard overwhelmingly voted to unionize as the Harvard Academic Workers-United Auto Workers.
Non-tenure track faculty members at Harvard overwhelmingly voted to unionize as the Harvard Academic Workers-United Auto Workers. By Julian J. Giordano
By Aran Sonnad-Joshi and Sheerea X. Yu, Crimson Staff Writers

Non-tenure-track faculty at Harvard voted 1,094-81 to unionize under Harvard Academic Workers-United Auto Workers, the group announced on Friday.

Around 40 percent of the 3,100 eligible voters — which includes academic workers from postdocs to lecturers from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Divinity School — showed up to vote at one of three locations at the Harvard Science Center, the Science and Engineering Complex, and Tosteson Medical Education Center at the Longwood campus.

The HAW-UAW larger unit’s successful vote to unionize — with polls open from Wednesday through Thursday — followed the Harvard Law School Clinical unit’s own successful bid to unionize on Wednesday. The union will now be able to enter negotiations with Harvard.

Despite less than half of eligible members voting, HAW-UAW organizer J. Gregory Given, a lecturer at HDS, said he was happy with the showing given the rainy weather and short notice.

“We think that the turnout was quite strong, given the weather conditions,” Given said.

“We only knew the election dates three weeks in advance,” he added. “I personally was in touch with at least a couple of dozen folks who were supporters, who were devastated they weren’t going to be here for the election because they’re out of town.”

The elections for both the larger and HLS clinical units were scheduled shortly after the group reached an election agreement with Harvard, allowing HAW-UAW to sidestep an extended union petition process through the National Labor Relations Board.

During the unionization election, 81 workers voted under challenge. Harvard has previously challenged the inclusion of certain job titles under the union, which will now be a bargaining issue for HAW-UAW.

“I think it ended up that fewer of the staff and the postdocs were challenged than we might have expected,” said HAW–UAW organizer Kelsey M. Tyssowski, a postdoctoral fellow in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology departments.

University spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson that “we look forward to the opening of good faith negotiations with Harvard Academic Workers – United Auto Workers, beginning with the process of working to provide appropriate and accurate information on the bargaining unit, as required, according to National Labor Relations Act rules.”

According to Given, the union will soon choose a bargaining committee through “a vote of the entire membership” before heading to the negotiations table with Harvard.

“Once we have that bargaining committee, we will again have a democratic process — of meetings and elections surveys potentially — to get the general membership to agree on a slate of bargaining priorities,” Given said.

Then, Given said, “the bargaining committee will contact the University to initiate that bargaining.”

—Staff writer Aran Sonnad-Joshi can be reached at Follow him on X @asonnadjoshi.

—Staff writer Sheerea X. Yu can be reached at Follow her on X @_shuhree_.

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