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Union Contracts

What's in a union contract? The short answer is, anything the members and the employer agree to put in. But union contracts typically address a range of issues that are relevant to the terms of employment, including salaries and increases, time off, healthcare and benefits, education assistance, hiring policies, career development opportunities, workplace conditions, work hours and flexibility, and discipline and grievance procedures.
Below is an example of a current contract between the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) and Harvard University. The HUCTW is also affiliated with AFSCME, and represents 5,000 employees at Harvard, including Research Assistants I and II who are employed by the university but are not graduate students. This contract was ratified in October 2018, and will expire in September 2021.
HUCTW employees are paid more than McLean RAs, have more paid time off than McLean RAs, have access to more flexible hours than McLean RAs, and are entitled to professional development opportunities throughout the workweek, just like McLean RAs. Employees do not receive these benefits because of Harvard's generosity. They are a result of the solidarity and hard work of unionized employees.

Many graduate students are also unionized, and have contracts available on their websites that can offer RAs some insight into the type of contract that would be appropriate for our workplace. You can see contracts for students at NYU, Harvard, Temple, and University of Michigan for some examples. You can also find other graduate student union websites here.

Some HUCTW 2018-2021 Contract Highlights:

29 days total of PTO/year

15 vacation days/year

12 sick days/year

2 personal days/year

Effective December 5, 2018, the minimum salary for any HUCTW employee was $17.64/hour. The minimum salary for a Research Assistant I was $23.90/hour, and the maximum was $37.08/hour. The minimum salary for a Research Assistant II was $27.00/hour, and the maximum salary was $40.50/hour.

Entitlement to the maximum flexibility of work schedule within the limits of the position, including job sharing, compressed work weeks, alternative work weeks, daily flexible schedules, and remote work. Additionally, HUCTW stewards are available to provide support for employees in negotiating flexible work standards with their supervisors.


Up to $5,250/year in tuition assistance for Harvard classes.

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