Update on HGSU-UAW Negotiations

December 11, 2019

I write with an update on the ongoing negotiations with the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW). On December 2, the day before the strike began, the union shared several revised proposals with the University, including one on compensation and benefits. Over the past week, the University has been reviewing those proposals to understand their economic implications. We are scheduled to meet with the union next week to discuss these proposals as well as new counter proposals on other issues from both sides. The University's proposals are available online.

We thank the members of the Harvard community who have worked so hard to ensure that all of our students will be able to complete their academic work this semester. Even many of those participating in the strike took steps to ensure that their instructional work was completed before the strike began, in order to minimize disruption for their students. These efforts by faculty, staff and student workers are evidence of commitment to the values and mission that we share. Among those values is the embrace of reasoned debate and dissent. Such discourse is not always comfortable, but it must always be grounded in mutual respect.

Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that strikes are adversarial by design and are intended to create pressure to change the dynamic of labor negotiations. Union members have a legally protected right to participate in labor actions like these, and the National Labor Relations Act gives unions latitude in how they encourage their members to participate. Supervisors also have rights during labor actions, including the right to inquire about the performance of work during a strike. We all must remember that these rights exist in the context of an academic community that has established expectations regarding the conduct of its members toward one another.

As a University, we prohibit and do not tolerate intimidation, harassment, and retaliation. Whether or not students choose to participate in the strike, they should not be subjected to this behavior and should contact their Schools' Student Affairs offices if they are.

The University has not wavered from its commitment to address concerns raised during these negotiations, and we will continue to meet with HGSU-UAW in the hopes of reaching a reasonable resolution.


Alan M. Garber AB '77, PhD '82
Harvard University