Yale University dining hall workers and students will join their Harvard counterparts at a meeting for the local chapter of Unite Here to share negotiation strategies they have employed to reach an agreement on their current contract with Yale.
The meeting and discussion will follow a negotiation session between Unite Here Local 26 and the University in which both sides will put forth their official proposals for the coming contract negotiations. After the discussion with those at Yale, Unite Here members plan to rally in the Square.
Unite Here—a labor union whose members work in the hotel and food service industries, among others—represents Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services workers.
Unite Here Local 26 President Brian Lang said that Unite Here and the Yale workers decided it would be helpful for the workers to come down for the meeting, as those at Yale would be able to provide Unite Here with new ideas for compromises between the two bodies and help broaden their approach to the negotiations.
“Yale workers have some really interesting things in their contracts, some things that we would really like to see in our own,” Lang said.
Yale has had its own negotiation troubles with Unite Here in the past. In 2003, many union members went on strike as Unite Here and Yale were negotiating a new contract for one New Haven chapter of Unite Here.
SLAM member William P. Whitham ’14 said that he thinks Harvard has a lot to learn from the Yale contract, especially on the issue of sustainable food.
“When we went down to Yale, everyone was gushing about the food,” he said. “It’s really light-years ahead [of Harvard.]”
Lang said Unite Here is pushing for “sustainable jobs” for its workers, which he defined as jobs in which workers have job security, full-time employment, and the ability to pursue happy and productive lives.
Lang also said that bringing the Yale workers to the Unite Here meeting is important because it shows solidarity between workers across university boundaries—even between traditional rivals like Harvard and Yale.
“As workers, we have to stand in solidarity with one another,” Lang said. “They support us, and we support them.”
This is the second Unite Here Local 26 member meeting of the year which students have been invited to attend. SLAM members are promoting students’ attendance at the event as part of its “Sustainable Jobs” campaign.
“It’s important that people come out to support the workers,” said Whitham. “They really care about the students. It’s really the least [the students] can do.”
—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.