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HGSU-UAW Bargaining Unit Official Definition

“All students enrolled in Harvard degree programs employed by the Employer [Harvard] who provide instructional services at Harvard University, including graduate and undergraduate Teaching Fellows (teaching assistants, teaching fellows, course assistants); and all students enrolled in Harvard degree programs (other than undergraduate students at Harvard College) employed by the Employer who serve as Research Assistants (regardless of funding sources, including those compensated through Training Grants)...”

The following student-held positions are generally considered to be within the scope of the bargaining unit:

  • Teaching fellows; teaching assistants; course assistants
  • Other instructional roles (e.g., lecturer, instructor) held by students in degree programs
  • Hourly-paid student research assistants (excluding undergraduate students)
  • Graduate student research assistants: those students enrolled in graduate science and engineering programs who are receiving a stipend (or other compensation for their services, regardless of funding source) and performing research under the supervision of a faculty member.

The following are excluded:

“All undergraduate students serving as research assistants, and all other employees, guards, and supervisors as defined in the [National Labor Relations] Act.”

Contract Highlights

On November 15, 2021, the University and HGSU-UAW reached a tentative agreement on a four-year labor contract. The contract was ratified by HGSU-UAW membership on November 27.

The contract provisions reflect the University’s strong support for our student workers and are responsive to HGSU-UAW’s priorities. This contract represents a more than $23.5 million increase in compensation and benefits, as well as expanded protections concerning cases of harassment and discrimination. 

Key Provisions



  • A 15% increase in compensation for salaried student workers over the four-year contract, including:
    • 3.0% increase, plus 2.0% base salary adjustment, retroactive to July 1, 2021;
    • 3.0% on July 1, 2022, plus 1.0% base salary adjustment;
    • 3.0% on July 1, 2023; and,
    • 3.0% on July 1, 2024.
  • A 70% increase above the current contract’s senior teaching rate for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to $5958 in the first year of the contract, to meet the union’s stated goal of parity with teaching fellows at other Harvard schools. For the junior teaching rate, the proposed increase is 56% to $5311 in the first year of the contract. Both teaching rates will increase in FY23, FY24, and FY25 in line with the increase rates noted above.
  • An increase of the minimum hourly rate to $20 an hour, retroactive to July 1, 2021, for non-salaried student workers, increasing to $20.50 on July 1, 2022 and $21 on July 1, 2023.

See the new HGSU Contract rates.



  • Benefits support totaling $9.2 million dollars over the four years of the contract through five benefits funding pools.
    • Upon ratification, an additional $600,000 added to the current $950,000; in year two, an additional $600,000 added to the base of $1.55 million; in year three, an additional $600,000 added to the base of $2.15 million; and in year four, an additional $600,000 added to the base of $2.75 million, for a total of $9.2 million over four years.
    • HGSU-UAW determines how these funds are allocated across the five benefits pools: Dependent Health Care Premium Fund, Copay/Out-of-Pocket Expense Fund, Dental Fund, Child Care Fund, and Emergency Fund.
  • Effective January 1, 2022, non-salaried student workers who work a total of 280 hours in a designated six months of the academic year—July through December or January through June—will be eligible for support through the benefits pools.
  • An additional, new preventive dental plan for salaried PhDs, with 75% of the premium covered by the University.
  • An International Student Worker Assistance Fund in the amount of $30,000 for each year of the contract for reimbursement of immigration and legal expenses if the legal matter involves an immigration issue that directly affects the student worker’s ability to work at the University.
  • A legal expense fund of $100,000 for each year to provide financial assistance to student workers when retaining attorneys to assist or advise them on workplace issues.

Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Abuse...

Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Abuse or Intimidation

The contract offers the opportunity to appeal certain discrimination cases to an independent arbitrator.

  • For cases involving alleged discrimination other than Title IX/gender discrimination or abusive or intimidating behavior, the student worker complainant or respondent may choose to either appeal through the University’s internal appeals process or file a grievance under Article 6 of the HGSU-UAW contract. The union would then decide whether to take the grievance to arbitration. If HGSU-UAW chooses not to do so, the student worker may appeal through the University’s internal process.
  • The basis for a grievance filed by a student worker is:
    • (1) Whether the investigator(s) or decision-maker(s) involved in the initial determination of a claim of discrimination had a conflict of interest or bias for or against either party that could have reasonably been seen as influencing the outcome of the claim to the detriment of the student worker; or
    • (2) Whether the grievant has new evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the decision regarding responsibility or dismissal was made and that could affect the determination.
  • Cases involving Title IX or other gender-based claims covered under the federal Title IX regulations may not be appealed through this arbitration process.
  • The contact offers the opportunity to engage in mediation on all discrimination and abusive or intimidating behavior cases, including Title IX cases, following conclusion of internal procedures.

These provisions will add to the work currently underway by the Discrimination and Bullying Policy Steering Committee and Working Groups, which were convened earlier this year in conjunction with the current HGSU-UAW contract and include union representation. We anticipate recommendations from these groups on University policy and procedures in the coming months.


Provisions Not Reopened during These Negotiations