Tentative agreement on contract reached with HGSU-UAW

June 15, 2020

Today, the University and HGSU-UAW bargaining teams reached a tentative agreement on a one-year labor contract. The contract’s provisions reflect the University’s commitment to supporting student workers during their time at Harvard. As I have said previously, our students are the heart of our institution, and we have approached these negotiations with their best interests in mind. With the Union, we have reached a tentative agreement that we feel appropriately addresses the employment-related concerns of our student workers, while also ensuring the integrity of the University’s research and teaching mission. I write to provide an overview of key provisions of the agreement and to describe how the University is preparing for its implementation, if ratified by HGSU-UAW membership.

Compensation and Benefits
The contract’s economic provisions are responsive to the HGSU-UAW’s stated priorities and augment established practices and benefits. For FY21, the contract guarantees a 2.8% compensation increase for Research Assistants and Teaching Fellows, along with a minimum hourly pay rate of $16 for non-salaried student workers and $17 for hourly instructional workers. It also provides nearly $1 million in additional financial assistance for costs associated with health and dental insurance, childcare and emergency situations.

The handling of student worker harassment and discrimination allegations has been a key area of difference between HGSU-UAW and the University throughout the negotiations. Harvard is committed to the safety and wellbeing of every member of our community and strives to ensure an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment. With that commitment in mind, the contract provisions include:

  • Seats for HGSU-UAW representatives on the existing Title IX Policy Review Committee, a University-wide group that includes faculty, staff and students.
  • Seats for HGSU-UAW representatives on two to-be-established committees that will make recommendations on University policies and procedures for addressing other forms of discrimination and misconduct that do not fall under the federal Title IX regulations.
  • Contractual protections against retaliation of any sort for pursuing claims of discrimination.
  • A contractual guarantee that no student worker should be pressured by University officials to accept informal resolution of their complaint or interim measures in place of filing and pursuing a formal complaint.
  • A contractual guarantee that an "impartial and unbiased panel" will be available to hear any appeals from complainants or respondents regarding the final report of an investigatory team.
  • A statement of current policy that all faculty, staff and students are required to take training in sexual and gender-based harassment.

Next steps
For the agreement to take effect, it must be ratified by the membership of HGSU-UAW. If ratified, the contract will be in effect through June 30, 2021.

Upon ratification of the agreement, we will share with the community the full terms and provisions of the contract. Additionally, Harvard’s Office of Labor and Employee Relations will develop resources and materials to support its implementation. In the meantime, if you have questions, please feel free to direct them to studentunionization@harvard.edu.

Alan M. Garber AB '77, PhD '82