For immediate release
September 30, 2016
Tiffany Ten Eyck
Workers will staff picket lines instead of breakfast
Cambridge, MA—Harvard dining hall workers will launch an open-ended strike the morning of Wednesday, October 5 if a fair agreement is not reached university administrators by Tuesday, October 4 at 11:59pm. Instead of serving breakfast, workers will walk picket lines at more than a dozen locations across Harvard’s undergraduate and graduate campuses.
Harvard dining hall bargaining committee members sat down for the 1xth session of negotiations Friday, two of which have been attended by a federal mediator. Harvard administration continues to insist workers pay more for basic medical services.
“Workers are demanding two simple things from the university administration: the ability to earn at least $35,000 a year and a health insurance program that does not shift costs onto those who can least afford it,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 Lead Negotiator Michael Kramer. “These are reasonable expectations anywhere, but especially at the richest university in the world.”
Harvard dining hall workers voted in a landslide 591 to 18 vote to authorize a strike on September 15.
“The decision to strike was not easy, especially because we love our Harvard students and want them to eat healthy food that we cook,” said bargaining committee member Anabela Pappas. “Our students are as frustrated as we are that Harvard University told us it can’t afford to maintain our health care or pay sustainable incomes.”
“I want to shed light on the hypocrisy at Harvard,” said Gene VanBuren, a cook at Harvard Law School. “We take care of students that pay a lot of money to Harvard to be taken care of but Harvard isn’t taking care of us.”
“I want my kids to be able to have a bright future, and maybe one day they’ll go to Harvard,” said Jackie Medeiros, a dining hall worker with 24 years of service. “But right now, I’m too worried about how I’m going to pay the bills and pay for their doctor’s visits.”