Saturday, June 27, 2009

Open Media Boston coverage of the rally

Harvard University Workers Demonstrate Against Mass Layoffs

by Jason Pramas (Staff), Jun-26-09


Cambridge, MA - Over 100 unionized Harvard University workers, students and supporters held a campus rally on Thursday in protest of the mass layoff of 275 employees earlier this week - representing 2 percent of Harvard's 16,000-person workforce. Organizers said that as the richest university in the world, with billions of dollars in its endowment, Harvard "owes more to community residents than mass layoffs."

Geoff Carens, a union representative in the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, minced few words about the situation on the ground, "I think today's action shows that Harvard's callous efforts to kick workers to the curb is going to bounce back and bite them. We drew a large, noisy crowd of workers, students, faculty, and community members in summer - typically a very tough time to mount a demonstration! The rally was called very quickly as layoffs only started hitting the workers this week. The desperation and panic that many laid-off workers feel seems to be hardening into a determination to fight in many cases.

"We had participation today from activists in Allston-Brighton who have opposed Harvard's take-over of their neighborhood. The number of students who rallied was truly remarkable given that the great majority of them aren't even in town. We even attracted summer school students and high school students. Probably the majority of attendees were clerical union members. Our demonstration struck an important blow for workers' rights on campus, and pointed the way for the future. They say lay off? We say back off!"

The Harvard administration, for their part, indicate that they are doing everything they can to preserve jobs.

Kevin Galvin, director of news and media relations at Harvard said, "Harvard has taken a number of steps to reduce compensation costs, which account for half of our annual operating budget. We have frozen salaries for faculty and non-union staff this year, offered a voluntary early retirement program in which more than 500 employees participated, and strictly limited hiring. Unfortunately, we are facing a projected 30 percent decline in our endowment, and those steps did not generate the savings we needed to achieve in order to avoid the reduction in force that was announced this week.

"University officials have worked closely with the unions representing workers at Harvard to provide them with relevant information about the financial challenges that the schools and the central administration are facing, and to offer them opportunities to suggest alternatives to layoffs. By the time the process is complete, it will have included about 75 impact bargaining sessions over more than four weeks.

"Our staff reductions have been spread evenly across our workforce. The average participant in the Voluntary Early Retirement Plan had an annual salary of $67,000, and about half the participants were hourly employees and half were exempt administrative and professional staff. Again with the reduction in force announced Tuesday, about half of the positions eliminated are administrative or professional positions and almost all of the remaining positions are clerical or technical jobs. Service and trade workers will be largely unaffected."

Carens remains undeterred by such arguments, "Harvard's riches, high profile and marked tendency to act like a rapacious corporation will make it a magnet for bad PR, and larger and larger actions like the one we held today. I wouldn't be at all surprised if much more dramatic initiatives follow in the coming months. What the oligarchs of the Harvard Corporation, and Goldman-Sachs, don't realize is that they are helping to forge a steely coalition of union members, unorganized workers, students, professors, and residents."

Rally organizers plan to call further actions against Harvard's layoff in the coming weeks.

The event was peaceful with a light presence of Harvard Police. There were no arrests.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cambridge Chronicle on the Rally

Dozens protest Harvard layoffs

Wicked Local staff photo by Kate Flock
A protest rally against recent lay-offs at Harvard University was held on the campus June 25, 2009.
Wicked Local Cambridge
Posted Jun 25, 2009 @ 03:36 PM

Cambridge —

After an hour of chanting through a loud speaker and marching through Harvard Yard with a group of sign-holding protesters, Geoff Carens’ voice was hoarse, but his message to Harvard University was clear.

“Watch out,” he said.

Thursday’s protest was just the beginning of public demonstrations from Harvard students, staff, union workers, and members of the No Layoffs Campaign in reaction to Harvard University’s announcement on Tuesday to fire 275 employees due to a projected 30 percent drop in its endowment – now estimated at close to $26 billion.

“This is just the beginning,” said Carens, a member of the No Layoffs Campaign and a union representative, about future efforts to fight cutting the school’s workforce.

A group of about 30 protesters, many representing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, yelled in unison and held signs that read “Harvard has the money,” and “Harvard is more than just students.”

“When Harvard workers are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back,” the rallying group chanted as they moved from Harvard Yard to Mass. Ave.

In a letter to the university, Harvard president Drew Faust said the past year has “created a set of extraordinary financial challenges.”

“Difficult circumstances have called for difficult decisions across the university,” she wrote.

Along with the sizeable staff cuts – representing close to 2 percent of the university’s workforce – about 40 more staff members will be offered positions with reduced work hours.

Marilyn Hausammann, vice president for human resources at Harvard, said the school has already taken cost-saving measures over the past months like limiting discretionary and travel spending, implementing a hiring and salary freeze, along with a voluntary early-retirement program for more than 500 employees.

“Harvard is being run as a corporation,” said AFSCME member Phebe Eskfeldt.

Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin said in a statement that staff reductions have been spread evenly across the school’s workforce. Among the 275 job cuts, half of the positions are administrative or professional positions and the rest are clerical or technical workers.

“University officials have worked closely with the unions representing workers at Harvard to provide them with relevant information about the financial challenges that the schools and the central administration are facing, and to offer them opportunities to suggest alternatives to layoffs,” he said in an e-mail. “By the time the process is complete, it will have included about 75 impact bargaining sessions over more than four weeks.”

Harvard is Cambridge's top employer with 11,315 workers in the city.

Crimson on Rally

Staff, Activists Protest Layoffs
Workers call for top administrators to take pay cuts

Published On Thursday, June 25, 2009 8:58 PM

Dozens of union activists, students, and University employees gathered in Harvard Yard Thursday afternoon to voice their outrage and disbelief at the hundreds of staff layoffs announced earlier this week.

Participants remonstrated University administrators for slashing the jobs of long-time employees while failing to issue pay cuts for themselves and top financiers. Speakers reiterated their belief that Harvard's top leaders' actions have been motivated by greed and financial self-interest and argued that the University's behavior has been unbecoming of its non-profit designation. One protester's sign even asked, "Harvard: University? or Investment Bank?"

"At this time, anger is a necessary thing," said Wayne M. Langley, director of higher education for the Service Employees International Union Local 615, to a cheering crowd. "People have to stand up, rise up, and defend our rights...this is only the beginning."

The rally's attendees included members from various local unions as well as the Student Labor Action Movement, Socialist Alternative, Women's Fightback Network, and even the Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Assembly.

On Tuesday morning, Harvard President Drew G. Faust and Vice President for Human Resources Marilyn Hausammann announced in e-mails that the University would be eliminating 275 staff positions in coming days, with administrative and professional jobs comprising half the cuts and clerical and technical jobs comprising the remainder. Approximately 40 other staffers would see their work hours reduced or shifted to a seasonal schedule, but trade workers would be largely unaffected, the e-mails noted.

Participants in the rally rejected the anticipated 30 percent decline in the University's endowment for this fiscal year as an adequate and honest justification for the layoffs. A recurring slogan used by protesters in recent months has been "Harvard has the money—no layoffs," and Tom Potter, a faculty secretary at the Law School and a participant in Thursday's rally, said he doesn't think Harvard has "any financial justification [for the layoffs] at all."

Similarly, Grace C. Ross '83, the Green-Rainbow Party's candidate for Massachusetts governor in 2006, said at the rally that she believed "there is no question Harvard has enough money" to avoid layoffs. Instead, she said, the University's administrators are all just "crying poor because they're no longer minting money on our backs."

But University spokesman Kevin Galvin noted that compensation costs account for half of Harvard's operating budget, and also pointed to the other cost-cutting measures implemented by the University before the layoffs, including a voluntary early retirement program, a salary freeze for faculty and non-union staff, and strictly limited hiring practices. He said that staff reductions have thus far been "spread evenly across our workforce," and noted that the average participant in the early retirement program had an annual salary of $67,000, with roughly half the participants working as hourly employees and half as administrative and professional staff.

Nevertheless, "these steps did not generate the savings we needed to achieve" to avoid layoffs, Galvin said.

Geoff Carens, a Harvard librarian and a member of the Harvard Union for Clerical and Technical Workers, used a loudspeaker to lead the protestors in chants that included "The people, united, will never be defeated" and "They say cutback, we say fightback; They say lay off, we say back off."

Carens told the crowd that Harvard is "fabulously rich" and assailed the University for cutting jobs and failing to "live up to its responsibility in our community" as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization during a tough recession.

Phebe Eckfeldt, a HUCTW member and staffer in the admissions office, similarly said at the protest that "a job is a right and Harvard has to give it to us." She also said that she believed "an orgy of speculation on the stock market" triggered the current crisis, and that the announced layoffs were an attempt to "bust" unions at the University.

Attendees of Thursday's protest also included at least two faculty members. Afsaneh Najmabadi, a professor of history and women, gender, and sexuality studies, said that layoffs were "not the only or the best option" to reduce costs at the University, and Brad Epps, a professor of romance languages and literatures and WGS, said he was "mad as hell" that workers had been laid off while senior faculty and administrators remain, to his knowledge, untouched.

Epps said he and other faculty wrote e-mails to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Michael D. Smith, asking administrators to implement a "reverse sliding scale pay cut," in which those with higher salaries would take higher-percentage cuts. But Smith replied saying the option had been discussed but rejected, Epps said.

He added that if the fiscal crisis had truly necessitated "difficult decisions," referring to Faust's e-mail, the cuts "would have had a direct impact on senior faculty and administration." Instead, the announced layoffs are indicative of "institutional cowardice," Epps said, noting that he believes the budget-cutting process has not been conducted in an "open, transparent, productive way."

Attracting the attention of summer school students and visiting tourists throughout the hour-long protest, the crowd of protesters marched and shouted their way first to Mass. Hall and then to the Holyoke Center, where they brandished signs emblazoned with various anti-layoff slogans. Near the end of the rally, Carens led the crowd in chanting, "We'll be back."

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009



Thursday, June 25
John Harvard Statue, in front of University Hall
Harvard Yard

Today was the worst day I've experienced in my 21 years at Harvard. Clerical workers who keep in touch on an email list reported more layoffs every few minutes. Our union brothers and sisters, non-union workers who we've known for years, & many others are facing the unemployment line. It's so unfair that an employer like Harvard, with an endowment still larger than the GDP of many countries, is subjecting hundreds of workers who have provided faithful service to economic insecurity, possible homelessness, etc. As a major landlord, Harvard benefits from the high rents in this area, rents that workers will not be able to pay when their unemployment runs out. Harvard gets so many special deals! They don't have to pay taxes like other businesses. They lay off hundreds of workers in the dining halls every summer, who aren't even eligible for unemployment benefits. The reason for this is that Harvard and other schools got an exemption from the government so that these workers can't collect unemployment. Harvard never suffered any consequences from their covert buying-up of Allston; they've let properties sit empty and depreciate. Rats are overrunning the neighborhood because Harvard's huge construction projects, giant holes in the ground, aren't being completed. Students will no longer get hot breakfasts in a lot of locations because Harvard doesn't want to pay cooks to fry the eggs. There was even a proposal to cut shuttle-bus services that keep the students safe--right around the time someone was shot dead in a dorm! And now, as a further body blow to the community, 275 clerical and administrative workers are to be laid off, with a further 40 to suffer cuts in hours or the "seasonal" status that the dining hall workers have--summers off with no pay and no unemployment benefits. Harvard may not realize it but they are going to reap a bitter harvest from all this. It's becoming crystal-clear to students, workers and community members that Harvard only cares about its narrow institutional objectives, to the total exclusion of any concern for the community. I believe a powerful coalition is possible, which will rock Harvard's house big-time! Let's begin the fightback:


Thursday, June 25
John Harvard Statue, in front of University Hall
Harvard Yard

Law School Announces Layoffs

Dear Members of the Law School Community,

I am writing to update you on the HLS budget process and to share some difficult news about cuts that are necessary in order to absorb the impact of our declining endowment.

As we have gone through the budget process over the past several months, many of you have offered ideas for achieving savings, especially during the recent staff focus groups on the current HLS financial environment, co-sponsored by the Joint Council and Human Resources. I am deeply grateful for your input, much of which we have adopted.

As I outlined for you at the Town Hall meeting in April, the distributions we expect to receive from our share of the endowment in FY10 and FY11 are expected to fall by as much as $19 million from FY09 levels—a decrease of more than ten percent of our current annual operating budget.

After extensive review of all our operations, we have now settled on an FY10 budget that represents a major step in our response to this new reality. As part of this process, all departments across the school were mandated to design budgets for FY10 that were approximately 10 percent lower than what they had to spend in FY09. Those plans have now been finalized.

I know your overriding concerns are with the staff reductions that I told you were likely when I communicated with you in April, so I will address these first. It’s a difficult subject, and the news that jobs will be lost will certainly come as a blow even if it is not unexpected. Nothing I say here will bring much comfort to those who will be impacted the most, but I can tell you that every one of these decisions has been extremely tough to make.

Today, we will begin the process of notifying 12 of our employees that they are being laid-off. We expect all of these notifications to be made by the end of the workday tomorrow. This is by far the most painful of a number of measures that, together, ultimately will result in the reduction of our staff by close to 10 percent. The bulk of these reductions and savings will come from a combination of the university’s early retirement program, the elimination of current vacancies that will not be filled, the ending of several limited-term appointments, and several offers of redeployment.

The people who are being laid off are drawn from a broad range of pay-grades and departments, and include managerial staff. After these reductions are made, the size of our workforce will be similar to what it was in 2005—when the value of our endowment was closer to what it is today.

Understandably, many of you have expressed a wish that I be as transparent as possible about the process by which these decisions have been made. I can tell you that it was straightforward. Our compass was set according to our strategic goals: to make sure that Harvard Law School will continue to offer first-class teaching and scholarship; attract top-tier students and faculty; build its world-class clinical program; support the finest law library and legal materials collection in the world; and maintain its longstanding commitments to financial aid and the encouragement of public service.

Be assured that layoffs were considered only after an exhaustive look at all other possibilities, and only after we took a series of steps to cut costs in ways that minimized the impact on our workforce—freezing salaries for faculty and exempt staff members, strictly limiting new hires, reducing the use of temporary labor, and offering a voluntary early retirement program.

I believe that these decisions, including the layoffs, were the right decisions for the Law School. I reviewed each of these decisions personally. They were difficult decisions to make, and I know they will be even more difficult for those most affected to absorb.

As we’ve gone through this process, many of you have asked how the faculty will be contributing to the effort to minimize the impact of the economic downturn. The faculty, senior administrators and I are in full agreement that the staff should not shoulder the burden alone. We have taken a number of additional measures to share that burden. Reductions in faculty allowances and certain stipends have been instituted for FY10. Changes in procedures for developing the teaching program in FY11 and beyond have been put in place to ensure that the permanent faculty will teach as many of our core courses as possible, and in some cases teaching above their required loads, in part so that fewer visiting professors will be needed.

Furthermore, members of the faculty and senior administration staff have pledged to contribute several hundred thousand dollars in cash contributions and have waived certain other forms of compensation to help us ameliorate the severity of this downsizing. Their contributions have made a material difference in avoiding even deeper cuts, and I’m deeply touched by their generosity.

In the months ahead, we will continue to explore additional opportunities for streamlining our operations and identifying efficiencies. This will include looking at ways to rationalize certain aspects of our organizational structure and also our space. The decisions we have made for FY10 have given us a solid start towards equilibrium during this period of diminished endowment distributions. But we don’t know how long this period will last, and we must continue to prepare for what could turn out to be a long interval before the endowment recovers fully.

In closing, let me say that the people who will be leaving us will be missed. Their collective contributions to the Law School over many years were substantial and valuable. I also recognize that we will need to adjust to the workplace without some longtime friends and colleagues. I assure you that we will do all in our power to support the staff who are directly and indirectly affected by this change. Those who are leaving will receive a transition package including eligibility for enhanced severance, continuation of subsidized health benefits for 12 months, a 60-day paid notice period, and access to outplacement or case management services.

It has been a privilege to serve as acting Dean these past several months, especially because I’ve had a chance to see and understand more fully how dedicated and professional you are in going about your jobs here on a daily basis, and how deeply you care for this institution. Harvard Law School is indeed a tremendous place, in no small part because of all of you, and I am confident that you will share your many ideas and your support with Martha Minow, as you have done so graciously with me.

These are challenging times, but the school will get through them—not just because of the tough decisions we’ve had to make, but because of the hard work and cooperative spirit of the good people who work here.

Best wishes,

Howell Jackson

275 Layoffs Announced!

This letter was sent to Harvard Staff today from President Drew Faust:

Dear Colleagues,

As all of you know, this past year has created a set of extraordinary financial challenges for our university as it has for others. I am grateful for the continuing efforts made by people across Harvard to confront these new realities with thoughtfulness and care, and with an emphasis on sustaining the strength of our core academic programs.

With compensation accounting for so high a proportion of our budget, we will enter the 2009-10 academic year with salaries held flat for faculty and exempt staff; we have also offered a voluntary early retirement program in which more than 500 staff members across Harvard have chosen to participate.

While these actions have helped us reduce expenses, we nevertheless have more we must do. In the coming days, Harvard’s Schools and units, as well as its central administration, will be carrying out a reduction in the size of our workforce — modest in comparison to the overall size of our University-wide staff, but nonetheless painful for those people directly affected, as well as for our community as a whole. Most of the Schools will carry out the process this week; the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Medical School, the central administration, and several of the allied institutions will follow, beginning on June 29.

Such decisions, in their human dimensions, are among the hardest that an institution like ours can make. But difficult circumstances have called for difficult decisions across the University.

As we proceed through this complicated transition, I want again to express my appreciation to all of you for your dedicated efforts on Harvard's behalf. A letter from Marilyn Hausammann, our vice president for human resources, explaining more about the planned reductions, appears below.


Drew Faust

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know that most of the Schools, allied institutions, and units in the central administration at Harvard will be carrying out a reduction in our workforce over the next seven business days.

The size and scope of the reductions will vary across the Schools and units, but when taken together these changes will result in the elimination of approximately 275 staff positions. About 40 more staff members will be offered positions with reduced work hours or an academic year schedule. Deans at the affected Schools and department leaders will be communicating directly with their staff members about the changes taking place in their local communities over the coming days.

We regret the impact this will have on the lives of our valued colleagues. This decision was driven by the financial challenges facing the University after a projected 30 percent drop in our endowment, as well as pressure on other revenue sources, and it should not be allowed to diminish the many contributions made by these staff members during their time with the University.

Over the past six months, managers across the University have scrubbed their budgets for non-personnel savings, canceled or curtailed travel, and limited other discretionary spending. We have slowed development in Allston, strictly limited hiring, and reduced our reliance on outside contractors. We have held salaries flat for the coming year for our faculty and exempt staff, a move affecting more than 9,000 individuals. And the Voluntary Early Retirement Program that was offered to about 1,600 employees attracted more than 500 participants.

These steps have helped to keep the number of involuntary reductions as small as possible. Unfortunately, further cuts are needed in order for Harvard to adjust to the institution’s new economic reality.

About half of the positions eliminated are administrative or professional positions, and almost all of the remaining ones are clerical or technical jobs. Service and trade workers will be largely unaffected.

The University is taking a number of steps to support staff members facing layoffs. These include:

    • 60 days of pay from the time of notification,
    • lump-sum severance of one to two weeks of pay for each year of service,
    • enhanced severance benefits that include an additional four weeks of pay, and
    • the opportunity to continue medical and dental benefits for 18 months, with a full year at subsidized rates.

Employees will have access to information about their benefits in individually prepared materials, on HARVie, and at a special walk-in Employee Support Center.

Administrative/professional and non-union employees wishing to begin a new job search are eligible for outplacement services and employment coaching. Harvard case management will be provided for HUCTW members. And, effective immediately, Harvard will institute a 30-day external hiring freeze for staff jobs to focus our efforts on matching qualified internal candidates with current job openings. I know that this is difficult news both for our colleagues whose positions are being eliminated and for those of you who will miss working alongside them. I think it is important to note that all of the steps that we have taken to reduce spending over the past six months have been taken with the aim of sustaining the academic and organizational capabilities Harvard will need for the future, while minimizing the impact on our workforce.

To those of you who are directly affected by this reduction in force, please know that we will do everything we can to make your transition as smooth as possible.

And to the entire University community, please know that we appreciate your dedication in this challenging time. With your help, Harvard will continue to be a vital and engaging place to work.


Marilyn Hausammann
Vice President for Human Resources

Monday, June 22, 2009

More protest pix from Commencement

Layoffs hit clerical workers

harvard intends to lay off 4 HUCTW members at the school of design;

2 librarians have been laid off in harvard college library;

2 HUCTW members in widener's slavic dept. have been told that one of them will be laid off;

about 30 secretaries (HUCTW members) at the law school have been told that 2 of them will be laid off. they were given 48 hours to volunteer to be laid off, otherwise management will pick who gets the axe;

2 other HUCTW members in library jobs have been targeted for layoff by management;

the associate director of a legal clinic at the law school has been laid-off;

HUCTW members at radcliffe had a meeting today w/ union officials who indicated there will be layoffs there. however the officials won't say how many workers management wants to can.

this is likely just the beginning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harvard Sexual Assault Office To Close for July

Harvard Sexual Assault Office To Close for July
Financial constraints cause temporary shutdown; administrators, students disappointed—'We rely on them'
Published On Friday, June 19, 2009 9:48 PM

The Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, which provides confidential support and counseling for students who have been sexually harassed or assaulted at the College, will close for the month of July due to financial constraints.

Summer proctors were informed of the shutdown during their orientation Thursday—just days before hundreds of summer school students begin arriving on campus—disappointing some administrators and raising concerns among some undergraduates in proctor positions.

"It's a shame," said Christopher S. Queen, Dean of Students for Harvard Summer School, of OSAPR's closing. "That's a real shame, because we rely on them in the summer. Obviously [the students] will have other resources, but the loss of that program this summer was a disappointment to us." According to Queen, over 2,000 students will live at Harvard this summer.

Calls to OSAPR in July will instead be referred to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, wrote Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesman Robert P. Mitchell in an e-mailed statement. He said that during the regular academic year, weekend calls to OSAPR are forwarded to that same Center.

OSAPR Director Sarah Rankin said that ideally students in need of counsel would have someone on campus to talk to. But she added that she understood the University's rationale in making this "painful decision," and that she too hoped students' needs could be met by "piecing together all the things that will be available."

But OSAPR's temporary closing will cause difficulties that stretch beyond the summer months, Rankin said.

"There's projects we've wanted to work on that won't happen this summer—training programs to develop, communities we wanted to reach out to," Rankin said, noting that she and her Office's two other staff members also prepare for freshman orientation over the summer. "Those projects will have to be put on the backburner."

David S. Rosenthal '59, director of University Health Services, said that plans are also being discussed by College and UHS officials to close the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Services for the month of July, although the UHS Center for Wellness will remain open. He stressed that "nothing is official and nothing has been announced" at this point in time, and also said that services that might otherwise be provided by OSAPR will be addressed by UHS Mental Health Services over the summer, as well as Harvard University Police Department.

Rosenthal said that he was not sure if OSAPR would be able to continue its 24-hour confidential helpline—a service that Rankin said she largely maintains by herself—and that he was not sure what costs savings would be achieved by closing the Office in July.

Rankin said that while OSAPR is certainly far less active during the summer than the normal school year, "we've never had a summer where no people use it at all."

84 Harvard students called or came to OSAPR's Holyoke Center offices during the 2007-2008 academic year, according to the office's Web site.

Queen said he knew OSAPR to be "pretty busy" historically during the summer, since the Office handles harassment and other confidential cases as well as actual assault.

Rosenthal said he hoped that the effects of OSAPR's closing would "not be seen and that there won't be consequences," noting that before OSAPR's establishment in 2003, sexual harassment and assault issues had been dealt with by UHS Mental Health Services.

Queen also said that he believed students would not be at risk in any way over the summer, but that it was simply unfortunate that OSAPR would not be available to support Harvard Summer School.

Despite the availability of alternative counseling resources for students, some summer proctors expressed concern about the decision.

"We don't have the professional experience to help out students when they're victims, and as a proctor, I'm uncomfortable if [sexual assault] happens and I don't have [OSAPR's] knowledge base," said Andrea R. Flores '10, a proctor and the current president of the Undergraduate Council. She said she was worried OSAPR's closing would complicate responses to sexual assault by taking away a centralized source of assistance.

"Perhaps the resources will be sufficient, but I do think it's the College's responsibility to provide sexual assault response resources, and I don't think that should be outsourced," Flores said.

Similarly, Laurel J. Gabard-Durnam '10, another proctor, said "it doesn't seem like a great idea" to close OSAPR while keeping the Wellness Center open, especially given that, based on past years, a case of sexual assault is almost "guaranteed" to happen during the summer.

She said that she did appreciate the fact that other counseling services would be available and that sexual assault helpline numbers were advertised widely and prominently across campus. But resources such as the Boston Area Rape Crisis center are "to be honest, a little far away," and could be intimidating for students unfamiliar with the area.

"It's ironic," she said. "The case they gave me interviewing for the proctoring job was a rape case, and the answer was to do this and do that, and to talk to these people. But now those offices aren't even going to be open."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Date of Looming Staff Layoffs To Be Determined

Date of Looming Staff Layoffs To Be Determined
Published On Wednesday, June 03, 2009 10:13 PM

Despite recent chatter that the University plans on instituting mass layoffs later this month—after the conclusion of Commencement activities—both a union leader at Harvard and a University spokesman say that negotiations about staff reductions remain in the early stages, making any discussions of a timeline premature.

“The persistent rumors out there [are] based on the mythology that the University is one big coordinated entity and that some Harvard office is the keeper of the list of people to be laid off,” said Bill Jaeger, director of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, the University’s largest union. “Our experience is that both of those impressions are blatantly wrong.”

He added that schools and departments around the University have only begun requesting meetings with the union this past week. Under the union’s negotiated contract, Harvard is required to notify and consult with the union before conducting any layoffs in order to allow the union to propose alternatives to job cuts, Jaeger said.

Similarly, University spokesman Kevin Galvin said that while Harvard will likely “have to make further changes to the size of its workforce” in the face of an unprecedented fiscal crisis, discussions with union partners are still underway, making it “premature” to determine when such changes to staff positions might occur.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith said in April that the administration would not announce any plans for layoffs before the summer, but beyond that, the University has not released any timeline. Rumors about prospective job cuts have offered dates ranging from June 10 to the end of the month.

With layoffs looming, some have continued to rally on behalf of staff. Kimberly Theidon, an associate professor of anthropology, has proposed the “1% Campaign,” which calls for a voluntary 1 percent faculty pay cut to help stave off staff layoffs. She said that she has witnessed “overwhelming willingness” to participate among faculty.

But according to FAS spokesman Robert P. Mitchell, the institution of even an across-the-board 2 percent salary reduction for non-union workers would have only a “minor impact,” saving less than $5 million—only a fraction of the $143 million that remains to be cut.

“Those who enjoy great privileges also have great responsibilities, and that means making great sacrifices for the common good when circumstances require it,” wrote public policy and history and literature lecturer Timothy P. McCarthy in an e-mailed statement last month in support of voluntary paycuts among faculty. “This is one of those circumstances.”

“We are a community here at Harvard—or at least we should be—and now is the time for all of us to act like it,” McCarthy added.

—Staff writer Esther I. Yi can be reached at

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Commencement action in the News - Open Media Boston

Boston Labor Protests New Harvard University Layoffs as Students Walk

by Jesse Kirdahy-Scalia (Staff), Jun-05-09


Cambridge, MA - As Harvard students walked in Thursday's commencement ceremonies, members and spokespersons of local unions, students and concerned community members rallied on the edge of the campus to protest the dozens of recent layoffs and Harvard University's newly announced plans to fire an additional four HUCTW employees from the School of Design. The action was part of the unions' and students' "No Layoffs Campaign," which aims to halt layoffs and reinstate those who have lost their jobs.

View more photos from Thursday's rally.

Among the approximately thirty people who turned out to protest Thursday were members of HUCTW, SEIU Local 615, AFSCME, and students from SLAM. Protesters stood in front of Holyoke Center, across from Harvard University campus, holding signs, chanting, "They say cut back, we say fight back!" and "They say layoffs, we say back off!" and distributing leaflets to passersby.

Geoff Caren, a Union Representative for HUCTW/AFSCME Local 3650 told Open Media Boston that Harvard plans to layoff four HUCTW members working at Harvard's School of Design. This comes after months of recent cuts and layoffs, which have broadly impacted workers, faculty and students:

  • Over thirty members of SEIU Local 615, which organizes custodians and security officers, have been laid off in recent months
  • Hundreds of dining hall workers in UNITE HERE have been forced to reapply for their jobs
  • Overtime has been eliminated for UNITE HERE and HUCTW members, and other workers
  • Faculty and non-union employees will not receive a raise this year
  • Shuttle bus services have been cut
  • Hot breakfasts have been cut in student dining halls

Caren said already there have been between thirty and fifty layoffs, but that it is difficult to know for certain because Harvard does not announce their layoffs. "Rank and file people like me, we just hear about them through word of mouth."

Daniel Brasil Becker, an organizer for SEIU Local 615, told Open Media Boston, "Where we have seen layoffs, it's been 30%-40% of the staff of janitorial workers in any given shift in any given work site. We do believe that this is an initial trial run. Nothing that Harvard said has indicated anything otherwise. And if 30%-40% is applied to the 800 janitorial workers that clean Harvard University, we're looking at hundreds of layoffs." Brasil Becker is concerned such layoffs would result in health hazards. Citing a recent outbreak of H1N1 virus at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Brasil Becker noted the janitorial staff is tasked with providing a clean and healthy environment for the everyone on campus. He added, "For janitorial workers, they themselves suffer from numerous health hazards in the daily work that they do. When, as is the case with several of the workers who have already been impacted by layoffs, the workers who remain are asked to cover the job that three other workers were assigned to prior." Brasil Becker indicated this presents hazards not just for custodial staff, but potentially for others on campus if overstretched workers are unable to complete their duties.

Garbage outside Kirkland HouseGarbage piled up outside Kirkland House on commencement day.

Caren said that in addition to above-mentioned layoffs and cuts, Harvard uses "classic corporate intimidation" to delay its employees admittance into unions. Dennis Prater, a former Harvard employee who worked at the Radcliffe Quad Library, told Open Media Boston he worked as a temporary worker for more than a year before Harvard finally lay him off. According to Prater, after an initial three month period in the official capacity of a temporary worker, he was hired as a "light" worker—less than half time—then rehired through another temp agency.

Prater said he wanted to join the union as soon as he was able, but "at that point, I was out of money. I had been less than half time for a few months, out of money. I said, 'Ok, well I wanna be in the union, but I have to take this temp job.'" According to Prater, his supervisor earnestly wanted to find a union job for him but that as the recession deepened, he was told Harvard would need to let him go. "My impression was that there were some higher up things happening, where they didn't want to give the library for a union worker. Of course the administration didn't want to higher a union worker and have to pay more to give someone benefits and stuff. Look at what they're doing to the workers now. They use every excuse they can; the economic crisis, oh that's a big excuse to cut down on staff and make people work harder for the same pay."

Prater stands in solidarity with workersPrater stands in solidarity with workers to protest Harvard layoffs.

When asked whether it was fair for union employees to face some repercussions of the recession along with Harvard faculty and students, Caren said, "No, I don't believe it's right for Harvard to make the lowest paid workers pay the price for their risky investments. They made the decisions in the early 2000s to shift their endowment from traditional endowment investments into a lot of extremely speculative endowment investments such as hedge funds, private equity, timber oiling tanks. And of course when the market was doing great, they did fantastic." According to The Harvard Guide, Harvard's endowment was valued at $25.9 billion in 2005. Caren estimated the university's endowment was approximately $36 billion at its height and "is still, by most estimates, at at least $28 billion now." Caren said those who live from paycheck to paycheck should not be the ones who lose out in this recession. "If there's any cuts, it should happen at the top. They pay their top money people millions of dollars per year."

Harvard Management Corporation's Board of Directors is chaired by James F. Rothenberg, a former President and Director of Capital Research and Management Co., and current member of the Harvard Corporation, which also includes in its membership ranks, Robert Rubin, who was forced out of his position as Chairman of Citigroup in January due to poor performance. When asked if any union members had a voice in HMC's investment decisions, Caren said he had no knowledge that was the case. "HMC does things their own way. They don't take advice from anybody." Caren agreed that while bankers and investors make the decisions for Harvard's endowment, it is the unrepresented workers who suffer their consequences.

Brasil Becker said, about HMC's investment strategies, "Universities do not run well under the business cycle. The model where one moment you have the money, the next moment you don't... This is the devastating impact on higher education of this model. We're suffering it today. [...] The Harvard endowment serves a purpose that is supposed to be directly tied to its mission. The purpose of [the] endowment is not to grow in and of itself. The endowment is not the mission of the University. They endowment must serve the mission of the University, and in times of economic duress, the endowment must be used to provide the services needed to keep functioning. Mass layoffs are antithetical to the mission of the University."

Harvard did not return Open Media Boston's request for comment.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Law Students Commencement action!

A bunch of Law Students did a great action during their commencement as you can see by the images below. Great Job!

HLS graduation 2009.jpg

The American economy: set to ruin hopes and dreams one person at a time.