After a period of productive negotiation, we have reached agreement on the terms of a new three-year contract that includes wage and benefit improvements as well as a new emphasis on education and professional development for staff. The new contract, which was ratified by the union’s members on May 1, will go into effect on July 1, 2001.
Though the specifics of the new agreement are important, the parties also agree that the negotiations themselves represent a shift to a more deeply collaborative union-management relationship. Through a process of interest-based negotiation that allows for serious exploration of critical topics before the adoption of formal positions, we have identified areas of common concern and established a more constructive union-management framework. We believe that a foundation has been created that will support continued cooperation and progress in several key areas.
In the course of our discussions, it became apparent that the union and the University share a growing commitment to workforce learning and education. We have developed an important joint statement on this subject and agreed to work together extensively in this critical area. Most importantly the University will establish a University-wide committee that will include representatives from the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW), to develop plans for the “Harvard Academy of Workforce Education,” a center for employee training and career development.
Working together, we also plan to establish new training opportunities for HUCTW members, including Adult Basic Education and access to the existing Harvard Bridge to Literacy and Learning program, which provides free, on-site courses in basic literacy; ESL; computer training; and other skills leading to the GED. The University will also increase funding for the union’s education fund to support those enrolled in certificate programs, and HUCTW members will become eligible for the recent enhancements to TAP (the University’s Tuition Assistance Program), including the newly increased maximum yearly reimbursement for non-Harvard courses of $5,250.
The contract’s salary package includes yearly increases in wages that will ensure that Harvard salaries remain strong and fair. Employees in grades 02 through 05 whose salary levels have not kept pace with market changes will see somewhat larger increases. Salary grade minimums and maximums will increase by 5 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent in the three contract years, which is important to longer-term staff members who have reached their grade maximums.
We have also agreed to benefits changes for HUCTW members:
We have also agreed to work collaboratively to implement needed changes in the University’s Short Term Disability Program and its administration, including clarification of the policy allowing of six months of STD benefits during any 12 month period and medical re-certification every 60 days.
The new contract also includes provisions to help HUCTW members who are balancing work and family obligations, including:
Finally, we are pleased with the tone of these negotiations, which was one of ample goodwill and earnest effort throughout. We are greatly optimistic about our future joint endeavors.