Harvard Academic Workers – UAW (HAW-UAW) is a union of Harvard’s non-tenure-track (NTT) research and teaching employees–about 6000 postdocs, research associates, lecturers, preceptors, and others. Right now, the administration unilaterally determines the terms of our employment. We are building this union to negotiate with them over pay, benefits, time off, and other forms of support.
Why should I be part of this movement? Because unions are democratic organizations, we the workers are the union, and we decide what we want to fight for, whether that’s higher pay, better childcare support, visa support; protections against harassment, discrimination, and bullying; or PI rights or IP rights from our research. What improvements do you want to win? Think big! You can also read about what the dozens of existing NTT unions have won at other universities, like Columbia, the University of California, and the University of Michigan.
Can I join this union? This is your union if: (1) Harvard is your employer; (2) you do research or teaching work, but not as a student or tenure-line professor; (3) you’re not a manager or a supervisor. The nature of your work (not your job title, which varies widely across the university) determines your eligibility. If you have any questions about this, please get in touch!
How is our union connected to the UAW? Several years ago, NTT workers of Harvard launched this democratic, worker-led union campaign. Early on, organizers voted to work with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents, in addition to manufacturing workers, tens of thousands of academic workers at Harvard and other universities. The UAW provides organizing, financial, and legal support for our campaign, as well as connections to other UAW academic unions and workers, but we the workers do the bulk of the organizing, strategizing, and building of our union.
So how do we form a union?
- Build a strong team of organizers and supporters.
- Sign authorization cards, which declare support for our union, with a goal of supermajority (65%+) support. (This is where we are now)
- Seek recognition on the basis of this supermajority. The administration can voluntarily recognize us, but if they don’t, we present the cards to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to petition for a “representation election,” a vote in which these NTT academic workers vote on whether to be represented by HAW-UAW. If a majority of voters vote “yes,” the union is “certified,” and the Harvard administration is legally obliged to recognize and negotiate with us.
- Negotiate a contract and elect local union leadership. At this point, we will collectively choose issues to fight for and elect representatives to meet with Harvard at the bargaining table. A contract must be democratically approved by us, the Harvard Academic Workers, to go into effect.
How can I get involved? In whatever way works best for you! Above all, we encourage every NTT academic worker who supports the union to sign an authorization card. You can also participate as an organizer, helping move us forward along the timeline above, share a public testimonial, and/or work on one of our committees. If you want to know more, please get in touch!