For immediate release
November 20, 2014
Tiffany Ten Eyck
First housekeeper strike in Boston, Speak-out at Harvard 5pm
Harvard housekeepers say Harvard profits from its hotel—$22.6 million in 2012—while workers have confronted pain and sometimes debilitating injuries.
“Harvard is the wealthiest university in the world yet they seem to be ignoring us,” said striker and injured worker Delmy Lemus. “My co-workers and I cannot live another day in pain. Harvard can’t hide from us.”
According to OSHA logs maintained by the hotel, the incidence rate for work-related injury and illness at Harvard’s hotel in 2013 was 75% higher than the rate for hotel and other accommodation workers in Massachusetts in 2012—the most recent year for which the federal government has provided data.
Workers on strike will address a public gatheringof 800 supporters at 5pm today in the Science Center Plaza on Harvard’s campus.
Students and workers at Harvard’s hotel first implored the University for help in 2013 when a majority of workers went to hotel management demanding a fair process to decide on unionization. A fair process is an agreement where the employer pledges not to interfere while employees decide whether or not they would like to join a union. A year-and-a-half later, students are concerned Harvard has not taken responsibility for workers at its hotel.
Students last month invited city politicians on campus to hear worker stories and aid in getting in contact with the University. Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Business School graduate students joined efforts.
“Any notion that Harvard lacks the resources to ensure the workers in its hotel are treated fairly is morally bankrupt,” said Katherine Blaisdell, a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Divinity School.
“When I was applying, Harvard advertised itself to me a place of inclusivity and fairness, no matter your socioeconomic status,” said Harvard first year Kareli Osorio. “If Harvard truly means that, I believe it should extend these same values to its hotel workers.”