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Friday, September 30, 2005

a year for the workers

That's what it needs to be at Harvard. Thousands of Harvard employees are struggling against the Corporation for a living wage, for parity, for full time work and for benefits that will allow them to raise their children above the poverty line. This week, the campaigns to support our workers in their negotiations began in full. Student Labor Action Movement (of which I am a part) held an event on Wednesday night to begin to raise awareness and yesterday, janitors and security guards rallied for the right to a union and fair contracts. Both were well covered in the Crimson.

A little context: Harvard is notoriously anti-labor. Last year, as a part of a long standing trend, they finished outsourcing the security guards, destroying the union they had in order to lower costs from wages and benefits. They also pay most of their basic service employees around $10 an hour (about $20,000 a year), which often requires workers to work 2 or 3 or 4 jobs to have enough to raise a family. (more in expanded post)

Cambridge Common will cover labor issues all year, as it is important to know where our money goes. The way Harvard spends our money (as with divestment issues, etc.) is an expression of our collective morality and if we as students allow the people who make our lives possible to live in poverty, we are complicit in their struggles. For now, the important thing to do is read everything you can about this (hopefully the Crimson will continue to do a great job covering the issue) and talk to the people who work around you about their experience. Talk to the people who run your dining halls and guard your houses, who clean your hallways and fix your broken window. Ask them about what they experience, what they are paid, how and if they struggle. Talk to your friends and make it an issue. Make it an issue because the people we rely on to live our lives are relying on us to help them live theirs.


At 12:57 PM, Blogger Randy said...

Good post. One point. The remark passed around by the more ideological of the slammers is "the union was destroyed". That's an opinion. The Harvard University Security, Museum, and Parking Guards Unionno longer has any security guards. Some of the
parking guards
are now contract workers. So it certainly is near death. But dead, is a matter of opinion.


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