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Cambridge City Council Calls for Higher Salaries for Harvard Clerical, Technical Workers

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The Cambridge City Council unanimously adopted a resolution last week urging Harvard to raise the salaries of its clerical and technical workers to keep up with the pace of inflation and rising costs of living.

The resolution, sponsored by Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and multiple city councilors, urged the University “to meet the salary demands being made by the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers in their ongoing contract negotiations.”

The resolution was sent to University President Lawrence S. Bacow, Harvard Director of Government and Community Relations Thomas J. Lucey, and HUCTW President Carrie E. Barbash on Nov. 9.

HUCTW has been in negotiations with Harvard since its contract expired on Sept. 30, but conversations have stalled in recent weeks. The previous agreement has been extended indefinitely until a new contract can be ratified.

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“We were really thrilled to get the proclamation from the city council,” Barbash said. “Part of what we’re trying to do in terms of moving forward with contract negotiations is broaden the conversation to other folks in the community and not just the Harvard community.”

Barbash said she thinks the City Council’s resolution will help push Harvard toward a compromise.

“I think it’s the combination of getting many voices involved in discussion and putting constructive pressure on key leaders from many different angles,” she said. “I think this is a really important one because Harvard is such a huge part of the Cambridge community.”

“I don’t see how you could continue to say we can’t give you raises that don’t keep up with inflation,” Barbash added. “It just seems unreasonable and cruel, frankly.”

HUCTW has not yet publicized the council’s resolution among its members, but Barbash thinks union members will find it “meaningful” to have received the city government’s backing.

Cambridge City Councilor Marc C. McGovern said it “shouldn’t be really surprising to folks that we would pass a resolution supporting workers in their demands for better benefits and fair wages.”

“We’ve done this before and, unfortunately, I’m sure we’re going to have to do it again, because these are going to be constant battles,” he said.

McGovern said he hopes that one day, Harvard will “do better by their workforce” without external pressure.

“As much as I enjoy a good rally, it shouldn’t always be such an uphill battle,” he said. “Nobody who works for the most prestigious university in the world should have to work two jobs to pay their rent — nothing prestigious about that.”

“Hopefully, our resolution and our speaking out in some small way moves things forward,” he added.

University spokesperson Jason A. Newton declined to comment on the resolution.

—Sophia Scott can be reached at sophia.scott@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ScottSophia_.

—Claire Yuan can be reached at claire.yuan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.

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