October 10, 2019

Harvard Student Workers Announce Strike Authorization Vote

Cambridge, MA – Student workers at Harvard University will begin voting next week to authorize a strike. For a year, the Harvard Administration has refused to agree to protections from harassment and discrimination, adequate healthcare, and fair pay for all student workers. October 15th, the day voting will begin, marks one year of negotiating without progress on core priorities for the roughly 4,000 workers represented by the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW (HGSU-UAW).

“I’m very disappointed that after a full year of negotiating, the Harvard Administration continues to outright refuse to consider proposals on harassment and discrimination protections, better healthcare, and fair pay,” said Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a student worker at Harvard Law School. “The university’s unwillingness to provide these basic rights and protections have left student workers frustrated and with no choice but to escalate.”

“After a year of negotiating, it is clear that the Administration does not intend to budge on the core, critical issues that student workers need addressed most immediately, and that is unacceptable,” said Marisa Borreggine, a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “Student workers at Harvard deserve a contract that addresses the very serious issues we face in our workplace, like harassment and discrimination and inadequate access to healthcare. #TimesUp, Harvard.”

Earlier this year, hundreds of HGSU-UAW’s student workers notified university administrators that they would organize a strike vote this fall if the university continued at their current negotiating pace and refused to consider many of the major contract proposals for which HGSU had been fighting. Since then, university negotiators have only reaffirmed their refusal to agree to necessary protections against discrimination and harassment and proposals to improve access to healthcare.

Student worker strikes at other universities across the country have been effective because student workers provide critical services including teaching classes and doing groundbreaking research. The services provided by the more than 4,000 Harvard University student workers are relied upon by faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students across the university.

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Harvard student workers from all departments across all of Harvard’s campuses joined together in April 2018 to form HGSU-UAW. They are fighting for fair pay, better and more affordable healthcare access, and key protections from harassment and discrimination, guaranteed through a union contract.

About UAW
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 has grown recently by 80,000 members nationally, including 17,000 postdoctoral researchers, adjunct professors, and graduate workers in the Northeast just in the last year.