After Weeks of Snowstorms, Union Leaders Look Towards Greater Flexibility

After weeks of dangerous weather conditions, leaders of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers said that they will push for greater opportunities for their members to work from home in upcoming labor negotiations with the University.

The University has significantly curtailed operations three times in the past 17 days due to inclement weather, requiring only “critical personnel” to report to work. Roughly 95 percent of the union’s members—who work in positions ranging from police dispatchers to office assistants—are considered “non-critical personnel."


However, HUCTW director Bill Jaeger said that travel on many regular work days has still been difficult because most members of the union deal with commutes that normally range from a half-an-hour to an hour each way.

According to Jaeger, even when the University is open, the current agreement between HUCTW and the University states that that if it is significantly unsafe to travel or if conditions are too hazardous, employees are giving the option of discussing potential options with their supervisors, including taking a personal day or working from home.


“We are hearing far too many of our members who are doing staff office jobs say that their managers are not allowing them to work from home on days with hazardous commuting conditions,” Jaeger said.

“There are a lot of members of our union who would like to have enough of the support and trust of their supervisors to do parts of their jobs from home when the traveling is pretty difficult,” Jaeger said. “There is some of that support and trust that is missing and we really want to try and gain that for our union members in the coming negotiations.”

In anticipation of the upcoming round of labor negotiations, which are expected to begin this spring, Carrie Barbash, a union organizer at HUCTW, reiterated the union’s commitment to working on behalf of its members for maximum flexibility in their work environment.

“The technology that we have now could allow members to work from home and would not only improve their quality of life and give them more flexibility, but also improve their level of productivity in their jobs.” Barbash said. “I think that depending on their position, members should be able to come in when it makes sense to come and stay at home when it makes sense to stay home.”

In an email sent Tuesday evening, University spokesperson Jeff Neal wrote, “Harvard looks forward to working with HUCTW on a host of issues when we begin the process of negotiating the new contract.”

—Staff writer William C. Skinner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @wskinner.


Recommended Articles