Past Contract Deadline, Union Appeals to Public
Amidst negotiations and three weeks past the expiration date of its previous contract, Harvard’s largest union has hung posters and other forms of signage throughout campus to advocate its positions.
The posters, emblazoned with slogans such as “It shouldn’t hurt to pay for health care” and “Together we should build a better plan,” are present throughout many Harvard buildings. They also feature prominently outside the offices of members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, which counts more than 4,000 members.
HUCTW director Bill Jaeger said the public appeal effort directly responds to the union’s ongoing contract negotiations with Harvard. He said those conversations have continued in light of continued disagreement over healthcare plans.
“These negotiations are becoming difficult and could use a burst of energy,” Jaeger said. “Everyone can use some more excitement in trying to find better ways to solve our issues.”
Carrie E. Barbash, a HUCTW organizer, said the union’s effort to appeal to the public is part of an overall strategy that looks to foster awareness of the negotiations and major issues across the University.
“Part of why we wanted to do something like this is to make it a community-wide conversation,” Barbash said. “We want to get all the other members of the Harvard community involved in the conversation as well. Building a plan together is the best way to address everyone’s needs.”
Jaeger called HUCTW members’ response to the union’s new efforts “enthusiastic.”
“Our members have given us a very positive response to this appeal,” Jaeger said. “They are very hopeful and optimistic that good-hearted negotiations are a good way to solve issues, especially health care.”
Jaeger and Barbash both said this campaign also specifically targets students to show them what is at stake during the contract negotiations.
“College students are employees to be and at some point in the next few years, they will be coming into the new, broken healthcare system,” Jaeger said. “We have a great history of working in partnership with students and we encourage them to become more engaged in this community-wide conversation.”
Harvard spokesperson Tania M. deLuzuriaga emphasized Harvard’s commitment to conducting successful and effective negotiations in a timely manner in a statement.
“Harvard and the HUCTW continue to negotiate in good faith for a new contract agreement that advances the interests of the union and the University’s mission of research, teaching and learning,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “Harvard deeply values the many important contributions made to our academic mission by HUCTW staff.”
—Staff writer William C. Skinner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WSkinner.
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