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Council Urges Labor Protections

HDS Asked to sign Resolution Supporting Strawberry Workers

By Adam S. Hickey

The Undergraduate Council last night asked Harvard Dining Services (HDS) to join the struggle to improve working conditions for strawberry workers in California.

Passed 38 to 7, the resolution urges HDS to sign a pledge "affirming that California strawberry workers should be given access to bathrooms and safe drinking water in the field, health insurance, a work atmosphere free from sexual harassment, a living wage, and reasonable job security."

"It's just a simple gesture to urge Harvard Dining services to support a movement to really make some peoples' lives a lot better," said Lamelle D. Rawlins '99, council president. "Anytime we can make even a small difference, that's important."

One member expressed concern that the resolution, which does not call for a boycott, is too lukewarm to be effective.

"I'm simply not convinced that the [council] can take any serious action on this," said Lilly J. Epstein '00, press liaison. "Either boycott or vote no."

According to Marco B. Simsons '97, the bill's sponsor, the various labor groups working on the nationwide effort to gain support for the petition are trying to prevent a boycott.

"They're trying to head off a boycott. It's important to head off more drastic means," he said.

The resolution explicitly states that "this resolution should not be interpreted... as a call for strawberry boycott."

Fruit boycotts are not a new technique in the struggle for improved farm worker conditions, however. According to Simsons, a grape boycott has been ongoing since the late 1960s, with Harvard participating in it since the late '80s.

If HDS signs the pledge, it will join a list of Harvard students who signed individually last week when petitioners garnered support in front of the science center.

Seeking Corporate Donors

In other business, the council established an internal position for a sponsorship and Fundraising Coordinator.

Starting next year, the coordinator will act as a "point-man" in the council's efforts to obtain financial and in- kind donations from local companies.

Supporters pointed to Spring Fling, which was sponsored by companies such as Kinkos and Mail Boxes, Etc., as an example of the effectiveness of corporate sponsorship.

"[The committee was] very much in a surplus," said Benjamin R. Kaplan '98, a co-sponsor of the bill. "They made money instead of losing money."

While some members expressed concern that the position stands to increase the council's liability, bill co-sponsor Catherine D. Rucker '99 assured the body that steps would be taken to prevent any mishaps.

"They will be well, well informed about University policy," she said

Supporters pointed to Spring Fling, which was sponsored by companies such as Kinkos and Mail Boxes, Etc., as an example of the effectiveness of corporate sponsorship.

"[The committee was] very much in a surplus," said Benjamin R. Kaplan '98, a co-sponsor of the bill. "They made money instead of losing money."

While some members expressed concern that the position stands to increase the council's liability, bill co-sponsor Catherine D. Rucker '99 assured the body that steps would be taken to prevent any mishaps.

"They will be well, well informed about University policy," she said

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