Press release reprinted from Service Employees International Movement Local 615
Harvard University Contracted and Direct janitors overwhelmingly ratified a five-year contract with Harvard University that raises wages, keeps health care affordable, increases opportunity for full-time work, and provides ALL contracted workers at Harvard with same benefits as direct employees.
Part of the agreement is a ground-breaking childcare allowance fund, which helps employees pay for the cost of day care for their children and can be worth as much as $5,000 per year. Direct and contracted workers across the university will now be able to take part in a Tuition Assistance Program allows employees to pursue an undergraduate degree or take courses at Harvard Extension School for a discounted rate. Over 700 contracted workers will benefit from this opportunity to provide better care for their families and educational improvement.
Harvard janitors will receive an annual wage increase of up to three percent until the contract expiration in 2016. A provision was added to the contract that protects the janitors in the event that Harvard’s contribution to the cost of the Union health plan falls short of what is needed to provide employees with affordable care, in which renegotiation of wages and benefits can occur in the third or fourth year of the contract with the right to strike.
Harvard agrees to the goal of having 70% of all employees be full-time employees, and commitments to eliminating all split shifts without reducing the hours of employees currently working split shifts. Along with this victory, janitors are ensured stronger seniority, job security, fair distribution of long-term extra work, and an increase in the third shift differential, for those workers who work late nights.
President of SEIU Local 615, Rocio Saenz stated, “The agreement we reached with Harvard is an example of how our institutions and workers can work together to begin to close the income gap and raise standards for all workers. With the help of the students at Harvard, janitors were able to close the gap between the rich and the poor, a success that should be nationally replicated.”
Harvard janitor Jean-Claude Mondesir said, “It was not easy. It was a fight. My coworkers who came to meetings and showed they were ready to strike played a big role in winning this contract along with support from the students. In the end we got something good for everybody. To me, the biggest thing of all was winning parity for all contracted workers. It covers everyone, not just custodians, but also security guards and kitchen crews. This is one Harvard and we are one union.”SEIU Local 615 acknowledges and appreciates the support of the Harvard SLAM students, a labor action committee comprised of students dedicated to promoting an equitable community, as well as Occupy Harvard, a new branch of the national Occupy movement which advocates for the rights of the 99%.