Harvard’s Threat to Workplace Democracy

Prof. John Trumpbour, the Research Director at Harvard’s Labor and Worklife Program, and Prof. Chris Tilly, the former director of UCLA’s Institute for Labor and Employment, speak outon Harvard’s appeal to the NLRB and call out Harvard administrators for trying to have it both ways: “As graduates of Harvard and on occasion employees, we have long witnessed the university’s odd combination of liberal rhetoric on burning social issues and then ice-cold repudiation when it comes to the rights of labor on campus. Stout opposition to Trumpism gives way to cozy collaboration on labor policies.” Join them in asking Harvard to drop the appeal– sign our petition here.

Another Year of “Disappointing” Endowment Returns

The Crimson  reported another year of “disappointing” returns on Harvard’s endowment. We received similar news around the same time last year. Then, in the spring, it was announced that GSAS students would be receiving a pay increase of 1.5%, half of what we’d come to expect, and  less than the Boston-area rate of inflationReceiving what was effectively a pay cut, in addition to significant surprising increases in health care costs, has made this already difficult year much more financially difficult for many of us. It does not have to be this way. Unionized employees on this campus continued to receive their contractual pay increases at or above the rate of inflation. Until we have collective bargaining through our union, administrators will continue to see our pay and benefits as ways to offset disappointing endowment returns.

#StopDeVos: Letter to Harvard Administration on 
Campus Sexual Violence

Last week, we joined with undergraduate and graduate students across campus, including Our Harvard Can Do Better and Harassment/Assault Law-student Team (HALT), to protest the leadership of the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, on a range of issues including the rollback of Title IX protections for survivors of campus sexual violence. Read  our letter demanding that the Harvard administration commit to protecting survivors, students and workers by taking campus sexual violence seriously, especially in the face of policy uncertainty at the federal level.

Immigration Organizing around DACA, TPS, 
and Muslim Ban 3.0

Last month, we protested the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, causing thousands to lose protections from deportation and the ability to work and make a life in the U.S. The Trump Administration has also signaled their intention to dismantle the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which offers protections to individuals from conflict or natural disaster-hit countries who live and work in the U.S., and issued  a new Muslim ban severely restricting travel from a number of countries. Our International Scholars Working Group is organizing to spread information about and advocate for resources for all Harvard community members– students, workers and their loved ones. Join us in supporting the immigrant community at Harvard by attending group meetings on Wednesdays at 6pm.

Surprising Changes to Healthcare and Harvard Administration’s Response

Thank you to everyone who has shared stories of their recent experiences with surprising health care changes. We have compiled these stories here. To add yours, please fill out this form.
We have not yet received a response to our letter from the administration regarding these changes. However, we did sit down and discuss these changes with Harvard University Health Services and advocate for our goals of reimbursement for affected students and full communication from the administration. We have discovered that some changes were the result of a glitch caused by the  change in prescription provider and can be reimbursed. To find out whether your price increase is a result of a billing error and whether you can be reimbursed, please contact us, Member Services, and/or Patient Advocate (located right next to the HUHS pharmacy).  Unfortunately, many students are still seeing increases to due to changes in dependent premiums or changes in the prescription tier level. The stability of a contract would allow us to plan our spending and would guarantee that we learn about and negotiate over changes before they are made.

Upcoming Events

  • Look out for a panel on Title IX at Harvard and a Science Welcome social hour later this month! If you are interested in helping to organize either event, please reach out to Liliana Gutmann-McKenzie at lgutmannmckenzie [a] gmail. We will be posting further details on our Facebook!

An Organizer’s Bio: Why I support my union, HGSU-UAW! 

Justin Bloesch

My name is Justin, and I’m a 2nd year PhD student in economics. I organize for a union so we can have more family friendly policies and better protections from sexual harassment and assault.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, I saw how the graduate student union fought for – and won –  lower fees for all students, gender neutral bathrooms, better equity and diversity policies, and limits on workloads for graduate students. When I learned that students at Harvard were organizing for union, it was a no-brainer: I should get involved.

My dream is to be able to use my time in grad school to start a family. Right now, it is almost impossible to afford having kids in grad school, and most of us will do so in our first academic jobs when the tenure clock is ticking. Academia doesn’t have to be this stressful. If we have a union, we will have the power to change it and make it better. 

Getting in Touch and Getting Involved

If you would like to get involved in organizing your union, please email us at hgsu.general@gmail.com.
Everyone is welcome to attend our general organizing meetings, which are Wednesdays at 2pm. The International Scholars’ Working Group meetings are Wednesdays at 6pm, alternating weekly between Cambridge and Longwood. If you are interested in coming and would like more information, please send us an email. 

Labor in the News