According to the Harvard Crimson, Harvard avoided its second campus strike this year by reaching a tentative agreement with its custodial staff close to 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
32BJ SEIU, the regional union that represents these janitors, has been discussing contract changes with Harvard since Oct. 7. During this time, Harvard was also faced with another unseen campus strike by the dining services.
SEIU union members took a vote last week to sanction the strike since neither side reached an agreement and their contract expired on Tuesday. An immense amount of voters decided to strike on Wednesday, but the bargaining meeting ran an hour past the deadline which prevented the strike from occurring.
This tentative agreement states that there will be a 12.5 percent increase in their salary over the next four years. At the end of these four years, the average janitor salary will go from from $21.89 to $24.61. Additionally, according to a 32BJ SEIU press release, there will be push for more full-time employees since around 30 percent of janitors are part-time employees. The press release also explains how employer-paid healthcare is secured, but does not clarify how this will differentiate from the current package.
Roxana Rivera, the vice president of 32BJ SEIU, said in the press release how this tentative agreement is a “win for families, communities, employers and the economy as a whole.”
Tania deLuzuriaga, Harvard University spokesperson, commended the custodians and the agreement in an emailed statement: “Harvard’s custodial colleagues play an important role in support of the University’s teaching and research mission, and we are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with SEIU. We believe this is a fair deal for both sides, and we are hopeful for a ratification.”
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