Harvard dining hall workers will earn a starting salary of $13.08 per hour next year, an increase of $0.83, according to the terms of a five-year deal tentatively reached yesterday with the University.
The deal with HERE Local 26, the union that represents Harvard’s 470 dining hall workers, boosts salaries by an average of 5.5 percent in the first contract year and 4.5 percent by the contract’s final year, marking a $4.15 per hour increase over five years—double the outcome of the union’s 2001 negotiations.
The University also said it would pay workers during the four-day winter recess, a perk already enjoyed by over 10,000 other University employees, and it created new benefits such as a provision allowing workers applying for citizenship to have five unpaid days of work without reprisal.
The average salary of a dining hall employee is $31,000, according to a University press release, in addition to $13,000 in benefits like childcare scholarships and insurance.
The deal has yet to be ratified by the union, which has more than 440,000 members throughout North America.
But Evan Paster, the leader of the union’s local chapter, announced yesterday’s breakthrough in glowing terms.
“In a marathon session yesterday, Local 26 Dining Hall Workers won the best contract in the history of our union at Harvard University!” he wrote.
Amanda L. Shapiro ’08, a leader of Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), which collected over 1,300 signatures last month in a campaign on behalf of dining hall workers, said the group had expected more resistance from the University and had not anticipated a deal to be reached until June 19.
The group’s chief demand—that workers be compensated during the summer months when the dining halls are closed—is not mentioned in the terms of the new deal.
“Some of our demands were met, and some of them weren’t,” said SLAM leader Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky ’07. “We want to make sure that workers were consulted on this and that they’re happy.”
Shapiro said the group would now focus on developing a monitoring procedure to ensure that the University adheres to the terms of the contract, especially those demanding respect for employees.
“The contract that the workers had over the last five years was actually pretty good,” she said. “A lot of the issues they were talking about came down to a lack of implementation on management’s part.”
—Staff writer Natalie I. Sherman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.