UPDATED: January 26, 2022 at 12:36 p.m.
Harvard security guards voted down a union contract offer from Securitas on Monday, sending the two sides back to the bargaining table after nearly four months of negotiations.
Members of 32BJ SEIU voted 127-84 to reject an offer from Securitas that members of the union’s bargaining committee decried as unfair. More than 80 percent of the University’s security workers participated in the vote, which closed last Friday after online ballots were open for four days.
More than 80 percent of the workers who voted to reject Securitas’ most recent contract offer also indicated support for a strike authorization, according to an email sent to workers on Monday by the union’s executive vice president.
John F. Carbone Jr., a member of the 32BJ’s bargaining committee, said Securitas’ offer was “insulting.”
“We’re just trying to get a decent contract,” said Amel A. Ahmed, who also serves on the union’s bargaining committee.
“We’re not asking for 1 million dollars,” Ahmed said. “We’re not asking for raises above inflation. We’re not asking to be treated differently than anyone else. We’re just asking for fair treatment.”
32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President Roxana Rivera wrote in an emailed statement that the union “is committed to reaching a strong contract agreement with Securitas, one that the membership fully supports.”
The union, which represents just shy of 300 Harvard security guards, is seeking to renew bargaining efforts on the contract, Rivera said.
“These essential workers have kept Harvard safe and secure throughout the pandemic, and they need and deserve sufficient wage increases, job protections, and other benefits,” Rivera wrote. “As a result, we are asking Securitas to come back to the bargaining table.”
University spokesperson Jason A. Newton declined to comment.
The contract proposal was brought to a vote by 32BJ despite opposition from the union’s bargaining committee, according to Ahmed.
All 32BJ members are now working without a contract after the workers’ previous agreement with Securitas expired on Jan. 13.
“We are hopeful that, together, we can achieve an agreement that helps these officers achieve the best for themselves and their families,” Rivera wrote.
Securitas declined to comment.
Without a contract, the security guards cannot enter arbitration processes over issues such as unjust terminations, according to Ahmed, though they can still file employment grievances.
“You want to be able to go to arbitration … to try to save someone’s job,” Ahmed said. “We don’t have that.”
32BJ will hold a virtual town hall with its members next Friday to discuss the state of negotiations.
“The union remains steadfast in our goal of achieving a new contract that protects members, recognizes our members’ hard work and garners the support of the membership,” Rivera wrote in an email to union members on Monday.