For immediate release
September 16, 2016
Tiffany Ten Eyck
97% vote to strike, to take place in 2 weeks if no resolution
CAMBRIDGE, MA—Harvard dining hall workers voted 591 “yes” to 18 “no” with 609 ballots cast yesterday to authorize a strike. Their contract covers 750 workers across Harvard University campuses and will expire at midnight tonight.
Workers’ have two core demands: a $35,000 sustainable yearly income and affordable health care.
The average Harvard dining services worker made less than $35,000 last year. While many employees want to work a full 52-week year, the average Harvard dining services worker only received 38 weeks of work.
The Harvard administration insists workers pay more for medical services including seeing a doctor for preventative care.
“We are the first people to greet Harvard students in the morning and make sure they are fed and healthy,” said 35-year Harvard dining services employee Anabela Pappas. “But if Harvard makes these changes, many of us will have to neglect a visit to the doctor.”
Students are showing overwhelming support. The editorial board of The Harvard Crimson published an editorial supporting the strike. Harvard Medical School students, clad in white coats, held a rally at the Longwood Medical campus Monday. Undergraduates launched a support petition that has garnered 2,460 signatures.
“I support our HUDS workers because they go above and beyond for me,” said Itzel Vasquez-Rodriguez, a Senior with a dietary preference who lives in Kirkland. “They make sure I’m healthy and I want to do the same for them.”
Dining hall workers will meet with the Harvard administration on Friday for the 15th session of bargaining, which began May 20. An additional session with a federal mediator is scheduled for September 27.
“Workers employed by the wealthiest university on the planet should not have to strike, but they will if they must,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 lead negotiator Michael Kramer. “We’re prepared to give the University 2 weeks to come to a suitable resolution.”