HUDS Workers Offer Advice on Protesting Trump

Encouraging student groups at Harvard to resist President Donald Trump through forming coalitions and organizing protests, Harvard University Dining Services workers and union organizers shared lessons they learned from their 22-day strike this past fall.

The event, entitled “Resisting Trump: Lessons from the HUDS Strike,” was held Saturday at Phillips Brooks House and organized by the Student Labor Action Movement and UNITE HERE Local 26, the Boston-based union that represents HUDS workers. Harvard's dining workers staged a three week strike last semester amid tense contract negotiations with the University.

Harvard Yard During the Strike
Dining workers flood Harvard Yard during last semester's strike.
The goal of the event was to “think about how we can collaborate and build the coalition that was able to win the strike and to bring those lessons into fights that we’re engaging in today,” said Anwar E. Omeish ’19, a member of SLAM. “We’re coming together with the idea that issues that affect students are also affect workers [and] are also issues that affect people across the country.”

According to Edward B. Childs, a dining services worker in Adams House, anti-Trump protesters and organizers need to use the same organizing tactics that Local 26 did during its strike.

“We thought the strike was over, but it’s back on,” he said. “Our members know that they can win, but you also have to be organized, be together, and form a coalition.”

Childs added that many Local 26 members oppose the Trump administration, especially because of Vice President Michael Pence’s support of “Right to Work” legislation, which hold that employees do not need to join or pay dues to unions in their workplaces.

As an example of Local 26’s efforts to protest against Trump, Childs pointed to a protest that dining hall workers at Northeastern in the union held on Inauguration Day. At noon, when the inauguration started, they walked out of the Northeastern dining halls and spent the rest of the day protesting.

Rosa I. Rivera, another HUDS worker, urged the audience to join protests against Trump even if students are not directly affected by the president’s initiatives.

“If we all hold that attitude—I’m not an immigrant, I’m not a Muslim—we’ll never get anywhere,” she said. “If the 750 workers who work for Harvard dining services had that attitude, we never would have won that strike.”

Rivera said the Local 26 strike was an example of effective organizing.

“Regardless of whether some of us were there for healthcare, regardless of whether some of us were there for our wages, we all came out together for one goal, to take down Harvard, the richest university in the world,” she said.

Rivera also urged students to resist Trump’s plans to restrict immigration to the United States, including a recent executive order that halted immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“I don’t have a problem with Democrats. I don’t have a problem with Republicans. I don’t have a problem with the government. I have a problem with Donald Trump,” she said. “And if we don’t do something about it, he’s going to be a problem for us.”

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at caroline.engelmayer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.

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