Boston continues to be one of the most expensive cities in the United States; the median rent for a one-bedroom is $36,720 a year, a 6% increase from last year and a 21% increase over the past five years. A recent Nature article reported that a 2023 livable wage in Boston for one person without dependents is $75,000 a year. The typical salary for postdocs, research associates, and other academic workers across Harvard campuses falls below a living wage. For example, the 2023 starting postdoc salary in Arts and Sciences is over $18,000 lower than this suggested livable wage.

Collective bargaining is a proven means to secure better compensation and improved standard of living for workers, and a union can provide this tool to Harvard NTTs.

Recent bargaining wins for compensation adjustments for academic workers include:

In addition to securing compensation adjustments, collective bargaining is a powerful approach to gaining other employee benefits that improve workers’ quality of life. Currently, many academic workers are ineligible for retirement and other basic benefits, or are unsure if they are benefit-eligible. The benefits we are eligible for are often unaffordable. Harvard healthcare for an employee with one dependent would cost a first-year postdoc 37% of their $65k salary. For many positions, basic workplace well-being standards such as paid vacation, family and medical leave, and paid sick time are absent or inconsistently offered. HAW-UAW can address inequity, enforce consistency, and demand better policies for better work-life harmony.

Recent bargaining wins for benefit allocations secured in union contracts:

  • Paid sick leave, paid vacation time, paid medical and family leave at University of Massachusetts Amherst (PRO-UAW)
  • Paid vacation and personal days and guaranteed access to paid leave for various life events (CPU-UAW)
  • Increased paid parental and family leave to 100% compensation instead of reduced pay in the University of California system (UC-UAW)

Harvard Charges Market Rate for Housing while Paying Below-Market Salaries

Harvard has amassed an enormous stake in real estate with land rights to 10% of Cambridge and 6% of Allston surpassing 24 million square footage in total.  With substantial land holdings , Harvard plays a significant role in setting market housing rates in the greater Boston area; with tax exemptions Harvard financially benefits even further from rising housing costs. Housing subsidies for in-unit workers would have an immediate and direct impact for employees and would be holding one of Boston’s largest landlords accountable for their impact on the community.