Cambridge, MA—On Friday, December 17–in a major victory for the essential workers who keep the richest University in the world running each and every day–Harvard custodians voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first new contract with the University since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The strong four-year agreement—which Harvard and the bargaining committee tentatively settled on December 3, the day the previous agreement was set to expire after being extended from an original expiration date of November 15–includes 15.25 percent in wage increases over the life of the contract and 5.75 percent during the first year alone; new provisions including an additional $1.75 per hour for snow removal and better compensation for furniture moving; and the maintenance of all healthcare and other benefits. It does not cover the nearly 300 Security Officers 32BJ SEIU also represents on campus, who have not yet settled a contract and will continue bargaining in January 2022.
“The essential custodians at Harvard should be extremely proud of themselves for reaching this strong contract during such uncertain times. They were only able to achieve this victory by standing together with each other and with supportive elected leaders, students, and other union workers to demand that Harvard offer nothing less than the family-sustaining raises and protections they need and deserve,” said Executive Vice President of 32BJ SEIU Roxana Rivera. “Next, we need to ensure that the our Security Officers on campus win an equally strong union contract in the new year; one that reflects their dedication to keeping campus safe and secure. Harvard and all the contractors they work with have a responsibility to offer the best work provisions to all essential workers and the entire Cambridge community.”
The new contract runs retroactively from November 16, 2021 to November 15, 2025. It covers the 400 custodians directly employed by Harvard as well as the 300 custodians employed by contractors to work on Harvard’s campus. Wage increases go into effect as follows: 2.75% raise effective 11/16/21 (retroactive); 3% raise 7/1/22; 3.25% raise 7/1/23; 3.25% raise 7/1/24; and 3% raise 7/1/25.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, including 19,000 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.