Janitors Rally Before Contracts Expire

Harvard janitors demonstrated in advance of the expiration of their contract yesterday, joining with student supporters to rally in Harvard Square and outside of a speech by University President Lawrence H. Summers at the Harvard Club of Boston.

The students and janitors gathered by the Science Center at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, then turned to march through Harvard Yard to Holyoke Center. The group ignored a warning by Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd and two University police officers that they were not registered protesters and were not permitted to proceed.

The protesters then rode buses to the Harvard Club on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Commonwealth Ave., where a large crowd assembled. Courtney Snegroff, an organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615, estimated that more than 200 workers and their families participated.

The group marched up and down in front of the Harvard Club, waving signs, shouting slogans, and banging percussive instruments­—at one point marching onto the street and blocking traffic.

They protest migrated around to the entrance to the club’s parking lot as guests were arriving for the speech.

Dr. Wolfgang Klietmann, Lecturer on Pathology at Harvard Medical School, drove through the protesters on his way into the club to hear Summers. He said he knew nothing about the subject of the protest, but that he believed its location was not well chosen. The workers and students “should stay on the campus,” he said.

Members of the Student Labor Action Movement, a student organization supporting workers, said the protest was intended to focus attention—and pressure—on Harvard.

“Harvard doesn’t like to be embarrassed in public, but they should be,” said Andrew H. Golis ‘06, a group member.