Campus & Community

Highlights of recently completed union agreements

3 min read

As of June 13, the University and its three principal service unions completed negotiations resulting in significant wage increases for workers employed directly by the University and by outside contractors. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU, Local 254), representing custodians, the Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees International Union (HEREIU, Local 26), representing dining hall workers, and the Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union (HUSPMGU) — will see starting wage rates that exceed the range of $10.83 to $11.30 per hour recommended by the Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies, chaired by Professor Lawrence Katz.


On March 1, SEIU members overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the University. There are 14 different clauses in the agreement, touching on issues from short-term disability, to overtime, seniority, and child-care allowances. The two key clauses involve wages and health coverage.

  • Wages: The parties agreed to wages that result in average annual increases between 3.9 and 4.4 percent, based on seniority, over the four-and-a-half years of the contract. The new rates immediately increase the wages of incoming full-time janitors by 13.5 percent and of part-time janitors by 16.4 percent. The starting salary for newly hired workers under this contract will be $11.35, up from $9.75 in 2001. In addition, the increases are retroactive to May 15, 2001, with back wages paid as a lump sum. 
  • Health care: The parties agreed to allow custodial employees to enroll in a union-identified health plan for which the University would contribute the same amount it would if the employee were enrolled in a Harvard health plan. The union and the University are currently working together to develop a suitable plan. 


    On May 7, the HUSPMGU negotiating committee approved a contract establishing a new pay structure that provides wages ranging from $11.35 to $12.35 per hour for museum attendants, security guards, and parking service monitors, depending on years of service. The new wages go into effect on July 1, 2002.

    The new entry-level wage of $11.35 per hour for these positions represents a 26 percent wage increase over the starting wage of $9.01 that would have prevailed in July 2002 under the earlier contract. The contract also provides for substantial wage increases for more experienced museum attendants and parking monitors, ranging from 15 percent for workers with five to 10 years of experience to 23 percent for those with one to two years.

    The wage increase for museum attendants (the largest HUSPGMU group) more than offsets the erosion of real wages resulting from bargaining impasses and wage concessions during the 1990s.


    On June 13, University and union representatives reached agreement on wage increases for Harvard University Dining Service employees who work at campus restaurants and are paid at the “retail rate” under the agreement. The lowest rate of $10.85 per hour represents a 21 percent increase over the previous rate of $9 per hour. In the final year of the agreement (effective through June 19, 2006), the wage rates will range from $12.25 to $13.34 per hour depending on job classification and length of service.

    This agreement eliminates the separate campus restaurant wage and classification structure, and, for the first time, the “retail employees” will receive wage increases that match those paid to employees in “board operations.” Under this agreement, employees can expect to see the new wage rates retroactive to July 1, 2001.