Labor Groups Pursue Two Plans of Action

Students Against Sweatshops and the Living Wage Campaign joined forces at the "Rally for Justice" on March 9 to demand that the University change its employment practices.

Since then though, the groups, both offshoots of the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM), have achieved very different levels of success.

At the rally, the University announced a policy of full disclosure of all Harvard apparel factory locations and endorsed a living wage for all overseas workers, fulfilling two of the major goals of Students Against Sweatshops. Harvard and the student group have been in negotiations ever since.

But for the Living Wage Campaign, justice has yet to be done.

Campaign members have protested, leafleted and tried to publicly embarrass the administration but have succeeded only in winning the appointment of an advisory Faculty Committee, with no formal executive powers.


And until the University agrees to pay its employees at least $10 an hour, the campaign vows to continue its strategy of "public humiliation."

Going Public

The Living Wage Campaign has put this strategy to good use over the last month.

During pre-frosh weekend, the group greeted visiting students with an information booth and leaflets at the Office of Admissions and interrupted President Neil L. Rudenstine's welcoming address by presenting him with a certificate declaring him the "Worst Employer in Boston."

Rudenstine accepted the award and simply proceeded with the address.

Just last Friday afternoon, the campaign held a rally at the John Harvard statue to support the union of Harvard security guards and museum workers, which is currently involved in contract negotiations with the University.

"Harvard has outsourced a lot of security for a fraction of the pay, and the union guards that are left have been working without a contract for a three years," says Aaron D. Bartley, a first-year law student involved in the Campaign. "It exemplifies the University's desire to save a few nickels and dimes."

While the University has not responded to the campaign's specific demonstrations, members say this is to be expected. And the lack of response has not dampened their enthusiasm; the group is planning a major demonstration for May 11.

"We know that what makes Harvard give in is public embarrassment," says campaign member Amy C. Offner '01. "In the past this has been what's been effective."

"We have to make sure as many people as possible know about Harvard's shameful policies," Offner adds. "That's our real threat for them."

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