Campus & Community

Ad Hoc report calls for expanded training, benefits, new contract guidelines

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After more than a year of studying issues surrounding Harvard’s contingent workforce and its lowest-paid workers, the Ad Hoc Committee on Employment Policies released a report yesterday (May 3) recommending a groundbreaking program of greatly expanded worker education, an expansion of health benefits for service workers, and the adoption of University-wide guidelines on service contractor hiring.

Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine praised the Committee and its report, saying it is his “strong inclination” to support adoption of the recommendations. Rudenstine also said, however, that he does not wish to curtail a review process this spring, during which he would invite comments on the report and request advice concerning the implementation of its recommendations.

Rudenstine created the eight-member committee, which contained faculty and senior administrators from across the University, in recognition of changing national labor trends and amid increasing student and political activism around issues of basic fairness to workers.

“I fully believe … that anyone who studies the report carefully will conclude that the Committee has made a comprehensive and conscientious assessment of Harvard’s full range of employment policies and practices and that the Committee’s recommendations are wide-ranging and very thoughtfully designed to address a number of important issues,” Rudenstine said. “Together, these recommendations represent a significant advance for individual workers at Harvard and for the University as a whole.”

The Committee recommended:

• A large expansion of the Harvard Bridge to Learning and Literacy Program from the current 38 people involved in a pilot version to as many as 500 a year. The program provides basic high school equivalency, English as a second language, computer, and other basic skills training.

• An expansion of subsidized health insurance to all regular service employees who work at least 16 hours a week.

• Enhanced benefits and perquisites for long-term casual employees.

• University-wide guidelines on the hiring of service contractors. Among the guidelines would be the requirement that contractors hired for jobs of a certain size and duration provide subsidized health insurance to their employees.

For further details, see the Gazette’s Special Report on the conclusion of the Ad Hoc Committee’s work.