Rep. Andy Levin Supports Striking Graduate Employees at Harvard
Bloomfield Township, MI — Congressman Andy Levin today led a letter signed by 21 Harvard Graduates serving in the U.S. House of Representatives expressing support for graduate student employees who are striking to get a fair first contract from the university.
The letter reads:
"We are pleased that Harvard has indicated its intention to honor the right for graduate employees to organize and bargain. However, if workers who organize cannot achieve a first contract expeditiously, they have rights on paper but not in their actual working lives."
Signers of the letter include:
Reps. Andy Levin, Brendan Boyle, Anthony Brown, Joaquin Castro, Katherine Clark Gerald Connolly, Bill Foster, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Joe Kennedy, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Stephen Lynch, Seth Moulton, Chris Pappas, Katie Porter, Jamie Raskin, Raul Ruiz, John Sarbanes, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman and Mark Takano.
Read the full text of the letter below:
December 20, 2019
President Lawrence S. Bacow Massachusetts Hall Harvard University Cambridge, MA 02138 Dear President Bacow, We write to you as proud alumni of Harvard University who also support Harvard’s striking graduate employees. We are deeply committed to a prompt and satisfactory resolution of the strike. As you know, despite the vagaries of National Labor Relations Board policy under various administrations, the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98, the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles of Rights at Work, and elsewhere. We are pleased that Harvard has indicated its intention to honor the right for graduate employees to organize and bargain. However, if workers who organize cannot achieve a first contract expeditiously, they have rights on paper but not in their actual working lives. Harvard University recognized the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW) Local 5118 as its graduate employees’ union on May, 1 2018, and the two parties have been negotiating for well over a year – since at least October 2018. We strongly feel that 14 months are more than enough to achieve a first contract. Further, we are concerned that there has been relatively little bargaining since the strike was called on December 4, 2019. We urge Harvard and the union to negotiate much, much more intensively and to enter mediation immediately if you cannot achieve a first contract on your own. You may be interested to know that H.R. 2474, our Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, provides for binding arbitration if parties cannot otherwise agree on a contract within four months – so that a first contract is achieved in less than six months in every case. We are devoted to our alma mater and to the principles of freedom of association in the workplace, as we know you are. We stand ready to help in any way to conclude this matter quickly in a manner that is mutually satisfactory to Harvard and the HGSU-UAW.