Harvard’s security guards confirmed in a vote late Wednesday night a new contract that guarantees a 15.3 percent wage increase over five years, an increased number of full-time jobs, and protection of their current health care coverage.
The contract comes after tense negotiations during which security guards threatened to strike after Securitas, the contractor that employs security guards for the University, proposed a less extensive health care plan than the one guards currently receive through their union. Security guards were outraged at the proposal and began circulating a petition expressing their willingness to strike over the new health care provisions. Over 80 percent of security guards signed the petition, which was then formally presented to their bargaining committee.
Leaders of SEIU Local 615, the union that represents Harvard security guards, said that the guards think the new contract is an excellent agreement. According to Local 615 Director of Higher Education Wayne M. Langley, the guards overwhelmingly voted to confirm the contract.
Langley added that there was a general air of celebration among the guards after the confirmation.
“Everybody is happy with the terms of the contract—they feel like their hard work and their struggles have paid off,” he said. “The guards have learned that if they stay united, if they stay focused, if they work as a team, that that produces better contracts.”
Security guards also emphasized the importance of solidarity in the negotiations process.
“Everybody came together to get things done,” said Harvard security guard Shawn Lynch. “It’s a really solid contract all the way through. We got everything we needed out of Securitas.”
Lynch also expressed relief over the fact that the negotiations came to a peaceful resolution and that guards were not forced to strike.
“I think that all of us [security guards] are happy that it did not come to that,” he said. “We definitely wanted a more peaceful resolution to this process, and that’s what we ended up getting—thanks to our bargaining committee.”
Despite the approval of the contract with Securitas, negotiations are not over for the guards. They are currently in the process of bargaining with the University for access to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which allows Harvard employees to take undergraduate and graduate courses at a reduced rate, sometimes for as little as . Currently, security guards are not eligible for TAP because they are contractors and not direct employees of the University. The new contract with Securitas stipulates that if the University agrees to fund the benefits, Securitas will provide access to TAP for guards.
While security guards do not have access to TAP, they can take part in the Bridge Program, which offers preparatory classes such as “English as a second language.”
Securitas could not be reached for comment, and the University has said that it does not comment on Securitas negotiations.
TAGS: Havard Security Guards, Securitas, SEIU Local 615, Security Guards, Union,