Harvard Dining Hall Workers Strike Over Wages and Health Care

Oct. 5, 2016 - Protestors picket in the Science Center Plaza at Harvard University. Photo by Brynne Quinlan/BU News Service
Written by Brynne Quinlan

Brynne Quinlan
BU News Service

Harvard dining hall workers went on strike early Wednesday morning across campus after they were unable to reach a contract agreement with administrators. Picketers chanted and marched with the hopes of securing sustainable annual income and affordable health coverage.

Lead negotiator Michael Kramer said that dining operations will be shut down until the school decides to really listen.

“An isolated administration stands alone,” Kramer said.

The strike was seen as the last resort after 19 negotiation sessions that still leaves the Union and the university at an impasse regarding an annual income of at least $35,000 and manageable health care costs. The Union voted 591 – 18 to authorize the strike if an agreement wasn’t reached by Oct. 4.

Tension rises because of a disparity between the income the school provides and the increasing cost of living in areas around Harvard explained a union representative.  Employees that were raised locally are now facing longer commutes.

Marcial Rivera, a 28 year resident of Boston and 26 year employee of Harvard, said the new health care costs amount to workers being expected to pay more with only minimal raises.  “It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

While some students worried about the accessibility of food, a larger number stand with the employees.

“This strike is not about us,” Grace Evans, sophomore student at Harvard, said. “The workers are under attack.”

The employees are committed and the strike will continue until their demands are met.  James Thibodeau, an employee from Lowell, Massachusetts, said he  believes the school only has two to three days worth of food left.


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