SLAM Rallies in Support of Workers
The Student Labor Action Movement has kicked off its sustainable jobs campaign to rally student support for University dining hall workers who will be re-negotiating their contracts in the coming year.
The campaign comes a week before Unite Here! Local 26, the union for Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Hall Services workers, plans to submit its contract proposal to the University.
For the campaign, SLAM has placed posters across campus that state SLAM’s demands for Harvard workers, which include greater job security and more access to full-time employment.
“Harvard needs to be providing its workers with sustainable jobs,” said SLAM member Karen A. Narefsky ’11. “[That] means jobs with full-time hours, jobs workers can sustain their livelihoods and their families’ livelihoods with. Jobs which allow them to lead full, happy, and productive lives,” Narefsky said.
The campaign links Harvard’s emphasis on sustainability, as seen with the University’s Green campaign, to sustainable jobs for workers, a tactic that Unite Here! formulated in its current negotiations with the University.
SLAM’s first event for the sustainable jobs campaign will be a Unite Here! member meeting for workers on May 12 at 8 p.m. in the First Parish Church in Cambridge. SLAM members hope to raise student awareness about the event and said that a strong attendance would help workers in their negotiations.
“Everyone should go,” said SLAM member William P. Whitham ’14.
“If we can send a strong message to the University, they’ll be less likely to cut wages and reduce hours.”
SLAM members also said they are prepared to push the campaign further.
“We’re not sure yet exactly where this campaign is going to go, but we do plan to escalate if we don’t get a positive response from Harvard,” Narefsky said.
Local 26 President Brian Lang said he welcomed SLAM’s endorsement.
“They’ve expressed support for our sustainable jobs campaign, which is the centerpiece for our proposals in these contract negotiations,” Lang said.
University spokesperson Kevin Galvin said that the University is committed to finding a workable solution for both sides.
“The people who work at Harvard University Dining Services are vital members of our community and we value the work that they do,” he wrote. “We are hopeful that an open and constructive dialogue will lead to an agreement that benefits both the Dining Services staff and the rest of the Harvard community.”
SLAM members said that while the immediate focus of the sustainable jobs campaign are the Unite Here! Workers’ contract negotiations, they will extend the campaign through the summer and into the fall when the security guards and custodial workers will be re-negotiating their contracts.
—Staff Writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org