Compensation Proposals for Student Workers: HGSU-UAW Negotiations Update

December 5, 2019

Dear Faculty: Compensation is a core focus of any labor negotiation, and that is true of the ongoing negotiations with HGSU-UAW. We write to share information on the current compensation proposals that have been offered by both the University and the union. And, to put those into context, we also share information on current financial aid and compensation for the bargaining unit members.

Current Aid and Compensation:

About 70% of HGSU members are PhD students, research assistants and teaching fellows, most of whom receive the following:

  • 5 years of guaranteed financial aid stipend.
  • 6 years of tuition paid by the University.
  • 6 years of full payment of their individual health care premium and student health fee.
  • This investment totals between $329,000 and $382,000 per student, depending on their area of study, in addition to investments in labs, scientific equipment and faculty and research administrative support.
  • For student workers beyond their financial aid package, who might teach courses while continuing to complete their academic work, the University pays, with some variations, $5,500 to assist with or teach a section of a course.

Among the other 30% of HGSU members are intermittent and hourly workers.

  • Hourly rates vary across the University, with some paying the state minimum wage of $12/hour, but most recent data shows the median hourly rate across the University is $22/hour.
  • The work being done by hourly student workers across the University varies, but includes such work as part-time research for a faculty member. This type of hourly work is not an academic requirement and the number of hours worked varies considerably. The median number of hours worked per year is approximately 100 hours per year.

University and HGSU-UAW Proposals:

The University’s current compensation proposal includes:

  • An 8% increase over three years (7% for teaching fellows) for salaried workers. This breaks down as 3% in year one of the contract, and 2.5% in the two subsequent years.
  • Raising the minimum hourly pay rate to $15/hour for non-salaried student workers (from the current $12/hour rate), and $17/hour for hourly instructional workers, with increases for these workers of 2.5% in each of the two subsequent years.
  • These proposed increases are in line with, and above, levels found in final contracts UAW has negotiated at other universities, for example:
    • Final UConn UAW contract: 2018-2022 | 2% each year
    • Final University of Washington contract: 2018-2021 | 2% each year
    • Final New School UAW contract: 2018-2023 | 2% each year

HGSU-UAW’s current compensation proposal calls for:

  • Year one of the contract to begin retroactively on July 1, 2019 (the beginning of this Academic Year).
  • A 15% increase over three years for research assistants. This breaks down as a 5% increase in year one of the contract, on top of the 3% already received on July 1, 2019 – which would total an 8% increase in this Academic Year (the already received 3% + an additional 5%) – and a 3.5% increase in subsequent years.
  • A 13.67% increase over three years for teaching fellows. This breaks down as a 5% increase in year one of the contract, on top of the 1.67% already received on July 1, 2019 – which would total a 6.67% increase in this Academic Year (the already received 1.67% + an additional 5%) – and a 3.5% increase in subsequent years.
  • A minimum hourly rate of $25/hour, or a 5% increase over the student worker’s current rate, whichever is greater.
The University’s compensation proposal is available online, including new summary information on compensation for student workers. You can also download PDFs of the University’s proposals at the links below.

We hope you will find this information helpful as the negotiations continue. And, in the meantime, please send any questions our way at: studentunionization@harvard.edu.

Sincerely,

Doreen Koretz
Associate Provost for Social Sciences and Professions

Paul Curran
Director of Employee and Labor Relations

Download the PDF of the University’s Proposals:
Compensation
All other Proposals