As a result of productive collective bargaining, Harvard University and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 254 have reached agreement on a new contract that will significantly increase wages and address the affordability of health care for Harvard’s custodial workers. The contract represents the commitment of Harvard and the union to maintaining a constructive relationship and includes many significant improvements for Harvard’s workers.
The new contract, which was ratified by the membership on March 1, 2002, and will be in effect until November 15, 2005, will raise the starting wages for Harvard janitors to $11.35 retroactive to May 15, 2001. By the end of the contract, Harvard custodians will start at 13.50 per hour, with longer-service custodians earning $14.00 per hour.
In addition to the wage increases, the contract provides for a joint union/management process to identify a union health plan that meets the University’s standards. For SEIU employees working 16 hours or more who wish to enroll in the union plan instead of in an existing Harvard health plan, Harvard will provide the same level of contribution that it would have if the employee had enrolled in a Harvard health plan.
The University and the SEIU also agreed on a number of new proposals aimed at improving wages and benefits for part-time custodial staff. As a result, hourly pay rates will be the same for full- and part-time workers, and part-time employees will be eligible for the same sick, vacation, and holiday leaves and the same short-term disability benefits provided for full-time employees. In addition, Harvard will continue to offer part-time employees the option of full-time status when openings occur.
The parties also agreed to a number of other initiatives that address worker concerns. These include the recognition of seniority as an important factor in employment decisions such as the assignment of overtime and the filling of vacancies. In addition, the contract provides new protections for Harvard workers in the event of outsourcing, and the establishment of a child-care allowance fund for custodial workers of more than $80,000 over the life of the contract.