Students Rally for Guards' Wages

Amid sunbathers and students throwing frisbees in the Yard, nearly 50 students and one Faculty member gathered Friday in an emotional protest in support of Harvard's security guards union.

The event, organized by the Living Wage Campaign, began with a rally in front of University Hall, then a short march to the front door of Mass. Hall.

The protestors then taped a poster reading "Contract Now" over the door to the central administration offices. After they were informed that the poster would be ripped down eventually, the protestors removed it.

Will W. Erickson '00-'01, a campaign organizer, told the crowd in a speech that he was missing a Literature and Arts C section that would be discussing Van Gogh's "Self-Portrait to Gaugin," which hangs in the Fogg Art Museum.

Art museum guards are included in the security guards union, which is still locked in negotiations for a new contract with the University.

"I need to be here to defend the people who defend that painting," he said.

Erickson also said the issue of a security guard contract was important for community safety, citing the recent Take Back The Night march as an example that campus safety is still a problem.

"This isn't just an issue of respecting our guards, but the safety of our community," he said.

The Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guard Union, which was formed three years ago, has been mired in negotiations with the University since its inception.

All of Harvard's graduate schools have begun using out-sourced guards, who often are paid less. Only the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the art museums continue to use guards employed by Harvard.

And, though FAS says it has no plans to eliminate the guards at present, negotiations with the union have been dead-locked since 1995, and no new guards have been hired since 1990.

Even the recent introduction of a federal mediator has not seemed to improve the situation.

The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board early last month alleging the University violated federal labor laws and is a "bad-faith" negotiator.

While less than 10 guards attended the rally, nearly all of them were vocal in their support for the movement.

The guards ranged from 36 years of working at Harvard to only two.

Recommended Articles