Substantive Platform of the Harvard Living Wage Campaign

The Living Wage Campaign, together with the unions representing Harvard's janitors and dining hall workers, is advocating a four-part labor package for the committee and administration to embrace. This package will improve the lives of Harvard workers and set important precedents for universities nationwide. Given the attention that Harvard's labor abuses have garnered, the creation of a strong code this year will be important for workers far beyond our community; and conversely, a weak outcome could have devastating effects on workers and campaigns elsewhere.

Our key elements include:

  • Harvard must implement a living wage with benefits for all Harvard workers, whether directly-employed or hired through outside firms. Studies of the local cost of living, such as those conducted by the Economic Policy Institute and Wider Opportunities for Women, suggest a living wage standard of at least $12 per hour plus benefits. The wage standard must be adjusted annually for inflation, and at the very minimum should exceed the wage standard set by the Cambridge living wage ordinance: currently $11.11 per hour.

  • Harvard must bring all janitorial, dining service, and security work back in-house. In recent years, Harvard has outsourced hundreds of service-sector jobs in order to slash wages and benefits, eliminate job security, bust campus unions, and deny responsibility for the resulting suffering workers experience. The damage done to workers and unions must be reversed by bringing service workers back in-house-meaning that they will be hired directly by Harvard and brought back into campus unions. Harvard has shown the feasibility of such a move in its recent reversal of its decision to outsource janitors at the Medical School.

  • Harvard must adopt a card-check neutrality agreement. Card-check neutrality agreements are two-part pledges taken by employers which honor workers' right to organize unions. First, they mandate that the employer will not launch an anti-union campaign when workers try to organize. Second, they mandate that the employer will recognize the union once a simple majority of workers has signed cards saying that they want to unionize. In creating a less oppositional climate for union organizing at Harvard, a card-check neutrality agreement would be consistent with the university's claims that it supports collective bargaining.

  • Harvard must create more opportunities for full-time work in the service sector. During the past ten years, Harvard has transferred a great deal of its service work into part-time positions in order to lower wages and eliminate benefits. Today, there are many service workers who want to work more hours but are told that they cannot. Harvard must make a formal commitment to create more full-time jobs and to provide full-time work-including year-around employment opportunities-to any service worker who requests it.