(Bloomberg) -- Harvard University and the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative agreement hours before a planned strike, both sides said Monday night.
Members of the UAW’s Harvard Graduate Students Union, which represents around 4,500 graduate and undergraduate students who work as teachers and researchers, had been slated to launch a work stoppage Tuesday morning with no announced end date.
If ratified by members, the new collective bargaining agreement will last four years, Harvard Provost Alan Garber said in an email to faculty Monday. Neither side immediately provided terms of the agreement. The union recently said that the main sticking points were pay, processes for addressing harassment and discrimination complaints, and Harvard’s insistence on maintaining a “right-to-work” setup in which employees represented by the union could choose not to fund the organization.
Student workers at Harvard voted to unionize in 2018, two years after the U.S. labor board issued a precedent-setting ruling at Columbia University deeming graduate student teachers and researchers to be employees with organizing rights. In 2020, after a weeks-long strike and months of mediation, the union and Harvard reached a one-year initial collective bargaining agreement, which employees say was signed to address the instability of the Covid-19 pandemic but neglected some key concerns.
After that contract expired this summer, employees mounted a three-day strike during Harvard’s family-visiting weekend in late October. The union has also filed complaints now pending with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the university of failing to bargain in good faith and of illegally making unilateral changes to working conditions. Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
The deal at Harvard follows news Saturday of a tentative agreement at Kaiser Permanente which forestalled a strike this week by tens of thousands of healthcare employees, as well as the announcement Monday that members of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees had narrowly approved a tentative deal of their own, averting another huge U.S. strike.
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