VIDEO: Harvard Grad Students Go on Strike, Demand $25/Hr Minimum Wage and More

Thousands of graduate student workers at @Harvard picket at Harvard Yard as they go on strike demanding $25/hour minimum pay, new workplace protections against harassment and health benefits that extend to mental health, among other requests. “What’s up? Time’s up!” they chant.

Fringe Presidential candidate Julian Castro was quick to support the strike, tweeting:

Every worker deserves the right to a union. Especially graduate students, who are often denied proper wages, benefits and protections.

As an alumnus, I proudly support @hgsuuaw, the union of student workers at @Harvard, as they begin their strike today.

Per The Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s graduate student union began its strike Tuesday at midnight after more than a year of contract negotiations with the University.

The widely anticipated strike, announced by the union’s bargaining committee last month, followed months of negotiations during which the two parties failed to come to agreements on key provisions, including health care, compensation, and sexual harassment and discrimination grievance procedures. The strike will last indefinitely, according to a union Facebook post Monday evening.

“Harvard administration has failed to produce meaningful responses to our proposals for harassment and discrimination protections, comprehensive and affordable health care, and fair pay. Our indefinite strike begins at midnight tonight,” the union wrote in its post.

Union members – teaching fellows, course assistants, and graduate research assistants – can choose whether to participate in the strike. Striking HGSU members will halt their paid instructional work, including holding sections and office hours and grading assignments and exams, according to strike guidelines distributed by the union last week. Graduate research assistants on strike will withhold 20 hours of their paid research work not related to their academic program.

HGSU announced their Dec. 3 strike deadline last month, after voting members overwhelmingly approved strike authorization in a vote in late October. HGSU and the University have met for 28 bargaining sessions since October 2018. They have thus far reached tentative agreements on 12 contract provisions.

No additional bargaining sessions have been scheduled, according to University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain.

Swain wrote in an emailed statement Monday morning that the University still believes that a strike is “unwarranted.”

“Student workers have [a] vital role in fulfilling Harvard’s teaching and research mission, and with that in mind, the University is committed to addressing concerns that have been raised throughout this process,” Swain wrote. “A strike will neither clarify our respective positions nor will it resolve areas of disagreement.”