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City Council supports student workers union


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City Council

Student workers at Harvard University, Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, and other institutions have organized to advance their labor rights by forming a union and entering into collective bargaining with their institutional employers.

The Council voted on April 24, 2019, to support efforts by Graduate Student unions to negotiate in good faith and exercise free speech rights without reprisal. Student workers perform critical functions in teaching, research and other areas, generating economic value for the institutions at which they are employed.

Student unions have faced pushback from university administrations throughout unionization and contract negotiation efforts. Currently, there are nearly 1,700 Harvard Graduate Students who work in Boston as research assistants and as teacher’s assistants. The Harvard Graduate Student Worker union (HGSW-UAW) reached a tentative one-year contract with Harvard University administration in June 2020, which was later ratified with 96.9% of union members voting to approve the contract. The contract expires on June 30, 2021 and a new contract agreement has not been reached.

The Harvard Graduate Student Worker union is demanding increased and improved protections for student workers against identity and power-based discrimination and harassment, protections for international student workers, annual pay increases, improved healthcare, paid medical and family leave, and union security.

Failure to acknowledge the labor of student workers has consequences for job quality, compensation and the rights of women and pregnant workers.

This week, the Council adopted a resolution in support of the Harvard Graduate Student Worker Union’s right to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for workers rights and fair labor practices.

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