FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 22, 2019
Contact: Contact on behalf of HGSU-UAW:
Dec. 3 Strike Deadline Looms as University Maintains Steadfast Refusal to Provide Fair Protections from Harassment and Discrimination, other Provisions
Cambridge, MA – Student workers of the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW (HGSU-UAW) today delivered letters to Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow calling on him to act immediately to avert a student worker strike. The letters were signed by hundreds of supporters, including the entire Congressional Delegation of Massachusetts — U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, U.S. Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Katherine Clark, Jim McGovern, Joe Kennedy III, Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch, William Keating, Seth Moulton, and Lori Trahan; parents, undergraduate and graduate students, campus organizations; and labor unions.
Student workers took an overwhelming 2,425 to 254 strike authorization vote on October 25, 2019 — over a year after contract negotiations began. The union has identified December 3 as the strike deadline, and is calling for the University to bargain a fair contract with comprehensive and affordable healthcare, fair pay, and common-sense protections from harassment and discrimination.
”We believe this strike would be detrimental to students, workers, and community members and we therefore urge [President Bacow] to engage in good faith effort to reach a fair agreement before the strike deadline,” wrote the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation members. Student workers Cherrie Bucknor, Justin Bloesch, and Hector Medina also wrote an opinion editorial published today in Commonwealth Magazine explaining why they are ready to strike.
Despite rallies, petitions, and a sit-in, Harvard administrators have disregarded student workers’ calls for a strong and comprehensive contract. Student workers at Harvard often struggle to afford the cost of living in Cambridge and Boston, and the University’s healthcare plan is inadequate for many student workers — particularly those with chronic illnesses and those who seek mental healthcare. The Harvard administration has refused to provide protections against harassment and discrimination, even though other unions on campus have secured these protections in their contracts.
The union represents more than 4,000 student workers, who provide services including teaching and groundbreaking research. Faculty, staff, undergraduates and graduate students, across every department at Harvard, rely on these services by student workers.
Harvard student workers from all departments joined together in April 2018 to form HGSU-UAW. They are fighting for fair pay, comprehensive and affordable healthcare, and key protections from harassment and discrimination, guaranteed through a union contract.
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy. UAW-represented workplaces range from multinational corporations, small manufacturers and state and local governments to colleges and universities, hospitals and private non-profit organizations. The UAW has more than 430,000 active members and more than 580,000 retired members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The UAW represents roughly 80,000 higher education workers nationally, including 18,000 postdoctoral researchers, adjunct professors, and graduate workers in the Northeast who have chosen UAW representation in the last five years.