Harvard Union Members Join Occupy Boston Movement

Harvard workers and union members are flocking to the Occupy Boston movement in protest of what some call the University’s “submission to a corporate model.”

“Big universities like Harvard have become tools of large corporations,” said Wayne M. Langley, director of higher education for the Service Employees International Union Local 615, which represents custodians and dining hall workers on campus. “Universities have become part of the problem. They are just like the big banks.”

Members of the SEIU Local 615, UNITE HERE! Local 26, and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers are not only participating in the movement in Dewey Square—they are also coordinating food deliveries and collaborating with organizers to plan other events.

They have plans for several labor marches in Dewey Square. which SEIU leaders say will be occurring within the next seven days.

“We think this movement is important and fully support it,” Langley said. “It’s about time that the focus shift back to the people who caused the financial crisis.”

UNITE HERE! Local 26 member Ed B. Childs, an Adams House chef who is currently participating in Occupy Boston, echoed Langley’s sentiments.

“[The Harvard Management Company] is a Wall Street firm that recklessly invests, and Harvard must be held accountable,” he said.

Childs added that he believes the “Occupy” movements are gaining steam, not only with dining hall workers at Harvard but around the country.

“More and more, workers are listening to our encouragement and heading down there,” Childs said, pointing to the mobilization of other union branches at Yale University and across the country.

Langley said that he hopes that as more University employees join the movement, the University will realize it can no longer “shirk responsibility for it’s actions.”

“Harvard, and all Universities that receive tax dollars and pay virtually no taxes ... cannot continue to skate by with irresponsible investing practices when they are supposed to be institutions dedicated to the public good,” Langley said.

SEIU is also participating at a national level, with SEIU president Mary Kay Henry emphasizing the union’s solidarity with the protestors.

“The 2.1 million nurses, janitors, school bus drivers and other members of the Service Employees International Union have a message to those on Wall Street today—We’ve got your back, we will join you in the streets, and we will not let up until we bring good jobs back to our communities,” Henry said in a statement.

The University declined to comment.

—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at mcook@college.harvard.edu.

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