Union Rally

For information about the Harvard University Security, Parking, and Museum Guards Union rally, see Laura Krug & Stephen Marks’s excellent news article, Security Guards Worried about Prospect of Outsourcing, Harv. Crimson, June 27, 2003, http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=348451.  The picket signs are now back in our Central Square office.

TESTED” signifies that the Harvard University Security Guards were required to pass two different kinds of tests:

• valid background checking (including Criminal Offender
   Records Information checks dating back to age 18)

• annual training and recertification

The Allied-Barton® contract security officers currently acting as replacements for the Harvard University Security Guards are not subjected to these traditional screening and training procedures.  Consequently they receive none of the benefits.

One benefit of particular interest to Allied’s employees: properly screened, trained, and tested security guards can readily find better-paying jobs with permanent employers.

Poor screening and training has led to legal action being taken against Allied security officers for assault on a Harvard undergraduate and—in Decker v. Mckenzie (Brighton Dist. Ct., Dec. 8, 2004)—on an alumna.

Allied’s and Harvard’s managements did sign a contract requiring that Allied perform valid background checks on every one of its security officers who are working at the university.  But both parties have powerful incentives (economic and political, respectively) to disregard this contract provision.

Until his resignation in April 2002, the chair of Harvard’s Joint Committee on Inspection—its audit committee—was Herbert “Pug” Winokur, who was also the chair of Enron’s Finance Committee.

Harvard’s audit committee has not yet regained its effective independence, as demonstrated by its continuing failure to demand that service agencies perform Criminal Offender Records Information checks on all employees at Harvard as required by contract.  Absent independent auditing, neither Harvard’s nor Allied’s management has an incentive to implement such checks on Allied’s current employees.

The published contract requirements appear to have been written primarily for political and marketing purposes.  They have been repeatedly promoted to Harvard College students (despite our providing factual evidence that contract guards working on the university’s site were arrested by federal agents around March 31, 2003).

For an article reflecting management’s perspective, see May Habib & Leon Neyfakh, Job Security?, Harv. Crimson, Dec. 9, 2004, (Magazine), http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=504932 (¶¶ 1–3, 13–14, 29–31, 37–38 & correction, items 7–8).

In reviewing the “Job Security” article (paras. 1–3 and correction, item 8), consider that the magazine article appeared in the second issue published after the assault on an alumna by one of Allied’s contract security officers (Nov. 20, 2004).  Also consider that its senior author had written other such articles serving to promote the interests of management at Arts and Sciences, the school where she, like the newpaper’s managing editor (Elisabeth Theodore), was necessarily enrolled as a student.

As indicated by the university’s Office of Human Resources in “Pay and Time Status of Security Guards, Museum Guards and Parking Attendants at Harvard,” Annual Report on the Status of Service Employees (July 2004), http:// www.atwork.harvard.edu/serviceworkers/pdf/ hcecp_final_report_704.pdf, the total count of Harvard University employees represented by the guards’ union is (as of Dec. 2004) around 82.  Contrary to Habib & Neyfakh, the number of union guards has not decreased to zero.  (Since March 2000 the number of full-time guards has actually increased, by around 10 percent.)

Harvard’s union guards are employed primarily at Art Museums—a unique and academically prestigious institution, and one over which management at Arts and Sciences had little influence.

Interested community members should contact Harvard’s vice president for finance and CFO to determine whether the university has a plan for establishing the appearance of independence on the part of the Joint Committee on Inspection or of Risk Management and Audit Services.

Note. Prior to fiscal year 1996, management had required all Harvard University Security Guards to complete forty hours of on-the-job training annually.  They had to maintain certifications in First Aid; CPR; Sensitivity & Communications Skills; Fire Alarm Systems; and Evacuation Procedures.

Guards received training in chemical spill control and emergency decontamination procedures, in report writing, and in legal issues such as liability risks.  In addition, they were advised of potential safety hazards at the specific laboratories and buildings for which they had responsibility.


15 Jan. 2005.  Student-Alumni Committee on Institutional Security Policy,
Cambridge, MA.  http://www.stalcommpol.org/rally.html.  Permissions.



Mariel John, HUSPMGU Rally, Cambridge (photograph) (June 23, 2003).

The union’s web site is at http://www.huspmgu.org.

—See May Habib, Harvard to Cut Last In-House Guard Positions, Harv. Crimson, Apr. 7, 2004, (News), http://www.thecrimson.com/ article.aspx?ref=358643 (¶¶ 3–4, 20–21 & correction, item 6):

“The April 7 news article ‘Harvard To Cut Last In-House Guard Positions’ incorrectly sourced information that the seven remaining Harvard-employed security guards whose positions will be eliminated will be offered jobs with Allied Security to James Herms.  Herms said that Allied Security would replace the guards, not that they would rehire them.”