The Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies, chaired by Professor Lawrence Katz, released its final report (the Katz Report) on December 19, 2001, after months of consultation, analysis, and public comment. The Committee was composed of students, faculty, union representatives, and senior administrators. The Committee voted unanimously among other things to open negotiations immediately between Harvard and several unions, under the terms of collective bargaining, with the aim of achieving starting wages in the range of $10.83 to $11.30 an hour.
Implementation of Katz Underway
The first contract to be re-opened under the Katz recommendation has been the contract covering the custodians, represented by SEIU Local 254. Bargaining teams for both parties as well as student observers have met on January 22nd, 29th, February 5th, 12th, and 19th. On February 27th the University and the Union reached a tentative agreement with SEIU Local 254 on a successor collective bargaining contract. The Union has scheduled a ratification vote on Friday, March 1st. Once ratified, the agreement will be effective on March 1, 2002 until November 15, 2005.
Harvard Tentative Agreement Exceeds Katz Report
As noted, the Katz Report recommended a starting wage range of $10.83 to $11.30 per hour. The tentative agreement provides for a starting hourly rate of $11.35 for custodians with less than three years of service and $11.50 for custodians with more than three years of service. In the final year of the agreement, custodians with less than three years of service will be paid $13.50 per hour and custodians with more than three years of service will be paid $14.00.
Tentative Agreement Compares Favorably to Other Area Employers
Based on the Katz Committee survey this summer of ten other universities and colleges in the Boston area as well as on estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the tentative wage agreement places Harvard at the median for universities in the area, and above other typical large employers in the area.
Agreement on Other Enhancements
- Joint union management initiative to enable SEIU employees working 16 hours or more to enroll in a union identified health plan that meets the University’s standards, instead of in an existing Harvard health plan. Harvard will contribute the same amount to the costs that it would contribute if the employee had enrolled in a Harvard health plan.
- Child Care Assistance, funded at $80,000 over the term of the agreement.
- Commitment to continue the University’s best efforts to convert part-time employees to full-time status, on an attrition basis.
- Recognition of seniority in the assignment of overtime, the filling of vacancies and in other significant areas of employment.
- Job security with comparable pay and benefits for current custodial employees in the event of outsourcing.
- The enrollment of four hundred fourteen employees in the Bridge To Learning and Literacy Program.
- Elimination of the distinctions between part-time and full-time custodians’ eligibility for sick leave, holidays, vacations and short-term disability.