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HUDS Strike Vote Leaning Toward an ‘Overwhelming Yes’

A ballot box at the HUDS Strike Vote on Thursday.  Voting was carried out throughout the day, beginning in the morning and continuing until 11pm.
A ballot box at the HUDS Strike Vote on Thursday. Voting was carried out throughout the day, beginning in the morning and continuing until 11pm.
By Brandon J. Dixon, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s dining services workers were leaning toward an “overwhelming yes vote” Thursday night in a decision on whether to authorize a strike, according to a spokesperson for UNITE HERE Local 26, the Boston-based union representing HUDS workers.

Votes had not been tallied at the time when Local 26 spokesperson Tiffany Ten Eyck said workers were strongly leaning towards voting to authorize a strike. Polls closed Thursday at 11 p.m., and the results will be announced Friday morning, just before the start of fifteenth bargaining session between the University and UNITE HERE Local 26, according to Ten Eyck.

In a press release Tuesday, Ten Eyck said a specific strike deadline has yet to be set by the union, though a “no-strike clause” in their current contract will no longer bind HUDS workers after Sept. 17, the contract’s expiration date. HUDS will provide further information about the details of a potential strike Friday morning, should the strike be authorized.

Local 26 negotiator Mike Kramer said on Wednesday workers will likely walk out of their jobs and rally at various places around Harvard’s campus should they choose to strike.

“Our members, because of this issue of annual income—compounded by the issue of healthcare costs—feel a sense of crisis in their daily lives, and if forced into a situation where they have no choice but to go on strike, they’re going to be bringing that sense of crisis out into the streets of Cambridge,” Kramer said.

Workers cast their ballots at the HUDS Strike Vote outside First Parish Church in Cambridge on Thursday afternoon.
Workers cast their ballots at the HUDS Strike Vote outside First Parish Church in Cambridge on Thursday afternoon. By Thomas W. Franck

Still, Paul R. Curran, the director of labor relations for Harvard, said he is “optimistic” he will be able to hammer out a contract with the union before they go on strike.

Workers are demanding that Harvard offer interested employees year-round work and a “minimum guaranteed annual salary” of $35,000 per year, as well as “creative” changes to a health care benefits package that they argue is too costly.

Harvard spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga wrote in a statement when the strike vote was first announced that “Harvard’s dining workers currently receive highly competitive wages that lead the local and national workforce for comparable positions in the foodservice industry.”

—Staff writer Brandon J. Dixon can be reached at brandon.dixon@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonJoDixon.

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