Union Rebounds After Cuts

Martinez had been working at the University Information Systems office since 2001 until she was diagnosed with cancer in 2007.

Two years later, Martinez returned to Harvard and took a term-time job at Harvard Law School before finding a more permanent position at the Student Receivables Office.

But before she had a chance to settle in, Martinez was hit by the first round of layoffs.

The very next week, she met with her union representative, Joie Gelband, who helped her land a job at the Office for Sponsored Programs just five months later.

“I had a very positive experience, and it’s due to the power team that I had, the people I had to work with,” Martinez says. “I was very fortunate to have Joie.”


Like Martinez, Jerome J. Leslie—who was working as an editorial assistant at Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications—credited the University for its efforts to support those who had been laid off.

“They offered a lot of opportunities for training development,” Leslie recalls. “I never felt like I wasn’t being watched and looked after.”

Leslie had already been considering taking a job that required more technical skills and offered to step down after his department announced it would be making significant cuts to staff.

The turn of events, he says, allowed him to take web design and IT support classes before applying for a new job.

By October, Leslie landed a job with Harvard University Press as an IT assistant, having only started the interview process in August. “I was very motivated myself to make this change happen, to get myself back in employment,” Leslie says. “I was supported from moment one.”

While Martinez and Leslie both describe their experience as ultimately positive, they both acknowledge that there are many who have been less fortunate.

“I was in a better situation than people who were older,” Martinez says. “It was really tough for some of them to get another position.”

—Staff writer Sofia E. Groopman can be reached at


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