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Harvard University Office of Labor and Employee Relations (OLER) strives to provide fair, competitive wages and benefits to our employees in a way that is balanced against our need to operate as a stable, responsible enterprise with a mission of teaching and research and an employment leader in the larger community.

We serve as the University’s point office with respect to all matters concerning labor relations and, employee relations, including high-level issues of a sensitive nature. The principal areas of OLER’s practice include collective bargaining, policy development and implementation, University-wide communication and coordination relating to labor and employment relations issues, labor and employee relations-related training and data analysis and metrics.

We are responsible for negotiating and administering the University’s collective bargaining agreements with the nine unions on campus representing approximately 6000 clerical-technical, service and trades employees. Some of our recent bargaining table achievements include:
  • Increasing childcare grant funding for working mothers in all employee classes
  • Creating better incentives for employees to take advantage of tax-deferred retirement vehicles
  • Strengthening the joint labor-management relationship with our unions
  • Increasing employee opportunities for career development through the Tuition Assistance Program and the Center for Workplace Development
  • Providing guidance for managers and employees to implement workable flexible schedules
OLER also plays a vital role in developing, implementing and administering the University’s Wage and Benefit Parity Policy (WBPP) for service workers on-campus, as well as policies regarding non-represented administrative staff and the contingent workforce. We also negotiate and administer the Harvard Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Boston Building Trades Council and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which provides project managers with options for union labor on University construction and renovation projects.

Additionally, we provide the University community with advice and counseling on the application of employment policies for exempt and represented staff, University collective bargaining agreements governing unionized workers, as well as compliance with the University’s various employment regulatory requirements.

Working collaboratively with local human resources officers and union representatives, the Office of Labor and Employee Relations seeks to balance all these competing interests and support the University’s overall research and teaching mission by ensuring the fair and consistent treatment of all Harvard staff.

William Murphy



William Murphy
Director, Labor Relations