Campus & Community

Report shows advancements made by lowest-paid workers

3 min read

A report released Wednesday (May 7) by Harvard University’s vice president for administration details a series of actions taken by the University in the last three months to increase wages for service workers, enhance education and training programs, and develop long-term improvements in the climate for workers on campus. The report shows that the University is on schedule in its implementation of recommendations made in December 2001 by the Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies (HCECP) concerning compensation and employment practices for Harvard’s lowest paid workers.

President Lawrence H. Summers announced in January that the University would adopt the HCECP’s core recommendations and ensure their timely and effective implementation. Wednesday’s report details the substantial progress made since January in fulfilling this promise.

Highlights of the report include progress in five basic areas:

Wages and Benefits

  • The University signed a contract on March 1 with the Service Employees International Union, Local 254, which represents Harvard custodial employees, raising starting hourly wages for Harvard custodians to $11.35. 
  • On May 7, Harvard reached a new wage agreement with the union representing museum attendants, parking service monitors and guards (Harvard University Security Guards, Parking and Museum Guards Union), that increases starting hourly wages to $11.35 in July 2002. 
  • Wage negotiations are underway with the Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees International Union, Local 26, which represents Harvard dining service employees. 
  • The University has adopted a new Wages and Benefits Parity policy which requires that contractors providing custodial, dining and security services to Harvard offer total compensation to their workers equivalent to what Harvard pays its own workers performing the same or similar work. Implementation of this new policy has begun.

    Shared Values and Norms


  • The president and provost, together with the deans, have endorsed a University-wide values statement and a process for sharing the statement within the University community.

    Training and Development


  • The Bridge to Learning and Literacy Program has expanded in the past year, with enrollments increasing from 220 participants to more than 400. The program – which provides classes such as English language and high school equivalency training free of charge during the employee’s work shift – now includes both Harvard and contract workers in the Longwood Medical Area, Business School, and Cambridge campuses. It will expand to 500 participants this fall. 
  • A new Training Advisory Group is assessing Harvard’s current training programs for supervisors to determine how to better prepare managers and supervisors of service employees and contractors.



  • The Office of Human Resources (OHR) is producing new brochures for Harvard service workers outlining the benefits and other services available to them. Translations of the information will be made available in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Mandarin for those who need them. 
  • The OHR hired a new multilingual officer to work with Harvard’s service workers to ensure that they are able to get the information they need from the University.

    Measurement and Resources


  • The Great Place to Work Survey, a widely used measure of employee satisfaction, was administered in March to nearly 6,200 employees in seven Schools and in Central Administration, including over 99 percent of Harvard’s service employees. Approximately 61 percent of employees responded – nearly double the participation rate achieved 28 months ago, when the survey was administered in the Central Administration. 
  • In addition to its new multilingual officer, OHR has hired two-and-a-half additional staff to meet the needs of service employees.A copy of the full report will be available at (Select HCECP Implementation). Also available on this site is the record of the University’s efforts to implement the Katz committee’s recommendations.