Harvard teaching assistants end strike without deal

Union cites aspirational university statement as grounds to halt walkout

January 1, 2020
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Harvard University’s postgraduate student union has called off its strike after four weeks, without a settlement or breakthrough on the key points of contention, the campus student newspaper reported.

The walkout by the 4,000-member union began on 3 December with aspirations that it might signal a new-found determination among students at Harvard and nationwide who help run research labs, teach undergraduates and grade their work.

The main unresolved demands at Harvard consisted of calls for better pay, expanded healthcare and improved job protections.

The union issued a statement saying the walkout would end on 31 December because the university had expressed its intention to reach a final agreement by the end of January, The Harvard Crimson reported.

The strike succeeded in establishing a “new foundation to finish negotiations”, the union said.

The university’s most recent statement, dated 19 December, did say that the remaining areas of disagreement were “something that we hope can be resolved in the month ahead”. The university statement also noted, however, that “movement has been minimal” so far on those areas.

The strike has caused Harvard limited trouble, mostly involving testing and marking, as it was timed to begin after classes had largely ended for the fall semester. Spring classes are not due to resume until 27 January.

It has, however, gained political attention. Several leading Democratic presidential contenders, as well as a group of 22 Harvard graduates serving in the US House of Representatives, have offered public expressions of support for the strike.

paul.basken@timeshighereducation.com

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