What is a union?
HGSU-UAW is an organization of student workers joining together to build power, create a democratic workplace, negotiate improvements to our working conditions and secure our benefits in a binding contract that cannot be unilaterally changed by the university administration.
Why are we organizing a union of student workers here at Harvard?
Voice. Unions give graduate workers a meaningful voice in how the university operates. In an era of academic corporatization and the increasing reliance on contingent researchers and teachers over tenured faculty, student worker unions give us a powerful voice in shaping our working conditions as well as the future of academic work and the university as a whole.
Power. Collective bargaining allows us to negotiate with the university administration as equals. Right now, the administration makes decisions about us unilaterally. A union will give us a seat at the table where we can fight for the benefits we need, shape conversations about the university’s future, and ensure our contribution to Harvard is properly compensated and respected.
Security. A union contract will protect our benefits and working conditions from unilateral changes by the university administration. At present, the administration can change the policies that affect student workers without even consulting us–for example, in 2016 they changed our health insurance plan, raising a number of copays, without asking students how it would affect them. Once our conditions are protected by a union contract, the administration will have to negotiate with us about any changes it wishes to make.
Community. By organizing, we join tens of thousands of graduate workers, postdoctoral researchers and adjuncts working across the country to win dignity and respect for all academic workers. From the beginning we have been working to forge relationships across departments and disciplines and build a Harvard where graduate students join together.
What changes do student workers want to see at Harvard?
We are coming together from all of Harvard’s campuses to discuss our visions of a Healthy Harvard. Collectively, we can begin to imagine what would make our university a healthy place to live and work, and once our union is recognized, we will sit down with the Harvard administration and negotiate towards those goals.
Through this larger discussion, we can identify critical areas for improvement to make Harvard healthier and more sustainable for all. These encompass everything from better mental health coverage and dental insurance, stronger workload protections, increased parental support and greater disability access to improved sexual assault, diversity and anti-discrimination policies. #WorkingForAHealthyHarvard
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