Last May, the Ad Hoc Committee on Employment Policies, appointed by President Neil L. Rudenstine and composed of faculty and senior administrators from across the University, released its final report. The result of a yearlong study of work force issues on campus, the report recommended that the University greatly expand benefits for entry-level and service workers, part-time workers, and the employees of contractors, and adopt University-wide guidelines governing contracting with outside companies for service work.
Calling the proposed measures a “significant advance for individual workers at Harvard and for the University as a whole,” Rudenstine indicated at the time of the report’s release that he was strongly inclined to accept the committee’s recommendations, and has subsequently endorsed them. The Harvard Corporation concurred, and the University began the process of implementation.
Because the proposals are wide-ranging, and affect different categories of workers in different ways, they are being phased in over a period of months.
Those recommendations that affect unionized workers will be implemented in a manner consistent with the University’s commitment to collective bargaining.
The committee’s specific recommendations, all of which have been accepted and endorsed by the University, are:
- A major institutional commitment to the long-term career prospects of workers through expansion of the workplace education program (Harvard Bridge to Learning and Literacy) to provide high school equivalency, English as a second language, computer and other basic skills training to 500 workers per year. Training will be available on-site, during paid release time, and paid for by the University.
- Provision of subsidized University health care benefits to all regular Harvard employees, whether full or part time who work at least 16 hours per week.
- Adoption of University-wide guidelines on the hiring of service contractors, including the requirement that contractors hired for jobs of a certain size and duration provide subsidized health insurance to their employees.
- Extension to long-term part-time staff, whether casual employees or service workers, of a series of benefits and perquisites designed to permit greater participation in the University community.
According to Polly Price, associate vice president for human resources, a great deal of progress has been made in implementing the first two initiatives since the May announcement. “The enhancement of the Harvard Bridge Program has been accomplished with new offerings available for this year’s class,” she said. “The program has also been expanded to accommodate 145 staff each semester in a first step toward the goal of reaching 500 workers per year.” (See story on previous page.)
“This month we are implementing the new benefits and perks for EPEs — the extended part-time employees mentioned above. EPEs are casual workers who have worked at the University for one academic year or more. The 600 EPEs who are now eligible for paid time off, consideration for annual wage increases, access to Harvard museums and libraries, tuition assistance, subsidized T passes, in-house training, and reduced rate home and auto insurance will soon be receiving their special Harvard ID cards.”
Planning for the expansion of health benefits and adoption of contractor guidelines is also under way, Price says, but these proposals involve cooperation and agreement among many parties. Benefit changes affecting union members must be negotiated and the development of new guidelines for contracting will include representatives from all the faculties. “The President has directed us to move forward as expeditiously as we can to make the committee’s recommendations a reality,” Price said, “and we will make that happen.”