Both Sides Optimistic Before Negotiations

In an open letter released Monday, leaders of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers heralded—with a distinct note of optimism—the union’s eighth round of contract negotiations with University management.

The letter, which emphasized the history of amicable relations between the 5,800-person union and University negotiators, stated that the recent preliminary meetings between both parties have been dominated by an “optimistic spirit.”

“Leaders in our union wanted to say something important about the power of acting in a constructive manner and about our partnership with the University,” said HUCTW Director Bill Jaeger.

In an e-mailed statement, Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin, who often handles labor relations inquiries, wrote that University negotiators remain “optimistic” that their positive working relationship with HUCTW will yield a beneficial agreement for both parties. The current three-year contract expires on June 30, 2010.

“As the letter noted, we are negotiating in a time of constrained resources, and everyone must work together to adjust to the University’s new fiscal reality,” Galvin added.


Despite the reigning spirit of cooperation commencing this year’s round of negotiations, HUCTW and Harvard have not always enjoyed an amicable relationship, said Jaeger, who referenced a “period of intense antagonism” between both groups in the ’90s.

“We’ve learned the importance of cooperation the hard way by having some protacted periods of antagonism,” Jaeger said.

The recent open letter is the second in a series of three communications about the ongoing negotiations between the union and Harvard. The first missive had highlighted concerns regarding staff cutbacks and criticized University adminstrators for the lack of transparency.

HUCTW will release a third open letter in upcoming weeks, featuring the results of a member survey about current working conditions and goals for the future, according to Jaeger. The letter will also include more information on the progress of this year’s negotiations.

HUCTW ratified its first contract with Harvard in 1989 after a protracted struggle to gain recognition from the University.

—Staff writer Sofia E.Groopman can be reached at                                                          —Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at