Every worker deserves robust parental leave and childcare support. 

Massachusetts has one of the highest costs of childcare in the nation. The median annual cost of full-time care for one infant in Middlesex and Norfolk Counties is $26,409 (childcare centers on the Harvard campus charge as much as $42,720). Recognizing these costs, the university rightly offers ample support for its tenure-track (TT) faculty and upper-level administrators. Yet it provides minimal support to non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty. Workers in other academic unions, such as Columbia University’s CPW-UAW 4100, University of California’s UAW-5810, and Harvard’s own Graduate Student Union (HGSU-UAW 5118) have been able to win substantial improvements in parental leave and childcare assistance. With a seat at the table, we can fight for the much-needed improvements that Harvard’s academic worker parents need to care for their families while they carry out the University’s core academic functions. 

Benefits differ across Harvard, but the policies of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) are illustrative of the current gap in benefits between TT and NTT academic workers (Table 1).

Table 1

Tenure-Track Non-Tenure-Track
New parent bonding leave Full semester (~15 weeks) leave at full pay 12 weeks leave at partial pay 

(4 weeks full pay, followed by 8 weeks at partial pay)

Harvard-sponsored childcare options ACCESS program

  • Annual scholarships of $4,000-$24,000 for earnings <$250k
  • Priority access to Harvard childcare centers 
Child Care Scholarships 

Annual scholarships of $1,500-$7,500 for earnings <$150k

In FAS, the gap in support between the childcare support programs is so great that NTT faculty with $75,000 annual household income may pay ~$20,000 more per year for the same childcare services than a TT faculty with $125,000 household income, and approximately the same effective rate as TT faculty with up to $250,000 household income (Figure 1).

Harvard has a responsibility to support all parents who provide labor to the University. Academic workers here at Harvard can use collective bargaining to pressure the University to meet its responsibility to close the equity gap between TT and NTT faculty, and fight for robust parental leave and childcare subsidies for all of its academic staff.