Protection from harm is one of the five essentials for workplace mental health and well-being outlined by the U.S. Surgeon General. This requires active enforcement through accountability. Unions like HAW-UAW can act as agents of protection and advocacy for its members by holding institutions responsible to existing policies and demanding necessary change to increase safeguards for academic workers.
Harassment and Bullying
Collective bargaining through unionization can tackle more systemic issues like bullying and harassment. Recent reports show that academic harassment and bullying is still all too common, including internal surveys at Harvard. In 2022 the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Postdoc Survey found 11% of FAS postdocs experienced bullying within the last year, with some departments reporting rates as high as 25%. In a 2020 climate survey from FAS, 22% of non-tenure track faculty reported experiencing bullying and 60% reported experiencing incivility. Even when supported by internally generated data, the university has taken no concrete steps toward remedying this pervasive problem. By building power through HAW-UAW, we can hold the university to account and help ensure the university protects all its affiliates from harm, regardless of title.
Recent Union Wins Related to Harassment and Bullying
- Established industry-setting protections against abusive conduct and bullying (UC-UAW)
- Forced their institution to create a committee with an enforceable timeline for the development of university-wide policy to address bullying (CPW-UAW)
- Increased protections around the process for discrimination and harassment issues including access to neutral third-party arbitration (negotiated by University of Washington Academic Student Employees and Postdoc Union (UAW-4121)
Working Conditions & Safety
In addition to mental health and well-being, Harvard also has a responsibility to protect its employees from physical harm. Unions like HAW have several mechanisms for establishing additional protections for its members, most notably through contract negotiations. HAW can bargain to include more distinct and direct protections that could address situational hazards and risks explicitly and specifically, in addition to the broad protections already offered by the university.
Recent Union Wins Related to Working Conditions and Safety
- All protective clothing and most protective equipment, including prescription safety glasses, covered and provided by the University (UC-UAW)
- Established a health and safety committee between union and University to address ongoing improvements to workplace safety (CPU-UAW)
- Language forbidding retaliation by University for workers identifying/expression concerns about lab safety (PRO-UAW)