The Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies (HCECP) released its final report Dec. 19, beginning a period during which President Lawrence H. Summers will review both the report and input from the Harvard community on its recommendations.
The committee, which included 10 faculty members, four students elected by representative councils, three union members, and two senior administrators, unanimously approved the report.
The report recommends that, through collective bargaining, Harvard reopen immediately the wage portion of its contracts with service workers – custodians, dining services workers, security guards, and parking attendants – with the goal of negotiating pay increases.
The committee noted that it expects resulting wages to be in the range of $10.83 to $11.30 an hour, the range paid to similar Harvard workers whose jobs have not been affected by outsourcing. The committee also recommended several other reforms – most notably parity wages for contracted employees in these service areas – aimed at preventing market conditions from driving wages lower, as they did for some categories of workers during the 1990s.
The parity wage policy would require that contractors pay their employees working on the Harvard campus as much as equivalent Harvard-employed workers make.
Though part of its charge was to examine whether a Harvard-specific wage floor was desirable, the committee rejected the idea in favor of the parity wage and benefit policy. The committee’s chairman, Harvard Economics Professor Lawrence Katz, said the reason the committee rejected the wage floor is that members were concerned it would become not just a minimum standard, but a maximum standard as well as contractors strive to do the job as cheaply as possible.
The committee’s report comes after studying the issue since May 2001, when the committee was formed by former Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine. The committee spent considerable time gathering available background information and soliciting input from the Harvard community. It issued preliminary data on Oct. 22, 2001, the same day it held an open forum at the John F. Kennedy School of Government to gather testimony on the issue.
For more information or for a copy of the committee’s final report, see the HCECP Web site: http://www.hcecp.harvard.edu. Comments on the report may be sent to President Summers for consideration at firstname.lastname@example.org.