News & Commentary

October 15, 2018

Rachel Sandalow-Ash

Rachel Sandalow-Ash is a student at Harvard Law School and a member of the Labor and Employment Lab.

Today, the Harvard Graduate Students Union – United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW) will begin contract negotiations with the Harvard administration.  Graduate student workers at Harvard voted to form a union this past April.  In advance of negotiations, the union developed and a set of bargaining goals which will form the basis for negotiations with the university.  These goals include higher pay; affordable and comprehensive healthcare; stronger protections against discrimination and sexual harassment; increased support for graduate workers with children; and student debt relief.  HGSU-UAW members and supporters will gather from 11:30am – 1:00pm in Harvard Yard for a rally to celebrate the start of bargaining and advocate for a strong contract.


In related news, graduate student workers at Tufts, who are represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, reached their first tentative contract with the university administration.  Under this contract, graduate workers will receive 12 to 19 percent raises as well as 12 weeks of paid parental leave.


Striking musicians represented by the Chicago Federation of Musicians Local 10-2018 have reached a tentative contract agreement with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  As previously covered in OnLabor, the musicians went on strike to protest management’s plans to cut guaranteed work time and reduce full-time positions.


Todd N. Tucker, a political scientist and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, writes in Vox that “labor is a foreign policy issue.”  He proposes “a new Worker Power Agreement [that] would function similarly to the Paris climate deal” in which “nations would commit to target increases in the union density rate in the same way they target inflation rates or carbon emissions.”  The countries that would sign such an agreement would have flexibility to determine “the exact mix of laws and practices” that would enable them to achieve their union density goals. Under Tucker’s proposed agreement, unions would be authorized to launch arbitration claims against governments or companies that are “frustrating the national target” for union density rates.

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