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Over the past several weeks, Harvard faculty have shown their support for striking dining hall workers, bringing their classes to the picket lines and signing a petition—which has now garnered around 130 signatures—calling on Harvard to reach an agreement with its employees.
Early Tuesday morning Harvard and its dining workers did reach a “tentative agreement,” which, though not yet officially ratified, “accomplished all of our goals, Brian Lang, president of the union that represents HUDS workers, said.
The faculty petition—which History and Literature lecturer Timothy P. McCarthy said began out of conversations he had with Kennedy School professors Richard Parker and Marshall L. Ganz after workers voted to strike—has circulated among faculty since the first week of the strike.
McCarthy said he worked with his former student and Gabriel H. Bayard ’15—an organizer for UNITE HERE Local 26, the Boston-based union representing HUDS—as well as dining service workers to come up with a draft of the petition. McCarthy also said he sent a “targeted email” to about 75 Faculty of Arts and Sciences professors.
“As faculty members, we recognize the indispensable role dining service workers play in maintaining Harvard as a community,” the petition reads. “We avail ourselves of the many dining options here every day, and we appreciate that HUDS workers not only serve food, but create and nourish community in ways that are absolutely invaluable to this institution.”
Of the 130 signatories, 65 are listed as being employed in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—there were 964 total faculty in FAS in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Among the signatories are both senior and junior faculty members, and one member of the Faculty Council—Professor Vincent Brown.
“There’s quite a diverse range of people who have signed on to this, in terms of school, in terms of discipline, and also in terms of rank,” McCarthy said, adding that he is “proud” of the “courage of junior faculty signing on and being heard at this particular moment in history.”
McCarthy said some departments have been more receptive to the strike than others.
“The humanities and some social sciences are probably more robustly represented than other departments and other disciplines,” he said. “I think we always have trouble, unfortunately, getting members of the Economics department to sign on to this, although we have a couple.”
Two economics faculty members—professor Stephen A. Marglin and professor emeritus John Womack, Jr.—signed the petition. McCarthy said this petition is a continuation of the work he, Ganz, Parker, and others were engaged in during the “living wage” campaign in the early 2000s, during which workers and students who were in what was then called the Progressive Student Labor Movement sought a wage of at least $10.25 for all Harvard employees.
Indeed, Parker said, he and Ganz have been involved in many types of campus activism for decades.
“Any time there’s a question of those who are more vulnerable needing help, it seems to both Marshall and me that we have a moral duty to act,” Parker said.
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith and University spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga could not be reached for comment.
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