During the course of the committee’s research, fact-finding, and lengthy deliberations we were again and again reminded of how central Harvard’s lowest paid workers are to the University’s basic research and teaching mandate. Students spoke with empathy and affect of their relationships with workers from throughout the University. In many cases, it was obvious to me that these connections and relationships were critical to the students’ experiences and development at the University -- isomorphic to their experiences working in a research project with a faculty member or in a small discussion section with an advanced graduate student. The decline of real wages among the most vulnerable members of the Harvard community -- largely limited English speaking immigrants of color presented a series of important issues and challenges to the Committee. Beyond the decline in wages, the committee also heard in the voices of workers -- reported to us with courage and hope -- troubling instances of affronts to their dignity and amour propre during their daily work at the University. This unhappy combination -- declining wages in an era when the University achieved unprecedented wealth and instances of lack of respect -- presents a picture that is incongruous with the ideals and standards of one of the world’s greatest universities. It is wrong and must stop. As someone in the course of our deliberations put it, Harvard must aim to become the “Harvard of employers.”
I think the committee's recommendations provide a powerful framework for a new day at Harvard. It recommends, inter alia, a critically needed increase in the wages of our lowest paid workers and an end to the use of outsourcing as a strategy to cut their wages and benefits. The committee also strongly recommends that the University’s leadership proactively work towards the articulation of an ethos calling for new and higher standards of respect for the inherent worth of the work of all of the members of the Harvard community. I fully endorse the committee’s recommendations.
I also agree with aspects of Professor Minow’s concurring statement. I, too, wish the committee had adopted a back-stop wage to further strengthen the vital recommendation for parity between the wages and benefits of Harvard union workers and those working at Harvard for outsourced contractors. Likewise, I feel that an oversight committee with broad representation of faculty members, workers, administrators, and students would be a critical instrument of future enforcement processes. Nevertheless, I endorse the committee’s report.