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Harvard Withdraws Proposed Dining Schedules Following Union’s Concerns Over Reduced Hours

Harvard withdrew a proposed change to dining services workers' hours after the workers' union staunchly criticized the University's proposal.
Harvard withdrew a proposed change to dining services workers' hours after the workers' union staunchly criticized the University's proposal. By Pei Chao Zhuo
By Cara J. Chang and Meimei Xu, Crimson Staff Writers

On the first day of September, Harvard withdrew proposed schedules it sent to the dining services union UNITE HERE Local 26 the previous month after the union alleged the University's proposal would slash jobs.

In August, the union alleged the proposed schedules would eliminate 20 percent of current full-time jobs at the residential houses and 8 percent of total hours when they went into effect during the next academic year. Local 26 flyered campus during undergraduate move-in, calling on students to support the union in its campaign for increased job security.

Harvard University Dining Services spokesperson Crista Martin wrote in an email that the University told the union in a Sept. 1 meeting that it would withdraw its proposal.

“Draft schedules previously provided at the request of the union will be voided to further emphasize the commitment to HUDS’ current team,” she wrote.

The preliminary schedules were originally designed to accommodate changes HUDS is making to undergraduate dining options, including an expanded weekend brunch, meal time changes, and the shifting needs of students.

The drafted schedules were separate from the dining workers’ ongoing contract negotiations with the University, which began in mid-May.

Now, with the schedules voided, HUDS will either maintain hours for current dining services employees or work with the union to create new schedules, according to the statement.

“In an effort to clarify and reiterate HUDS’ support for its Local 26 team members, HUDS has put forth a commitment to maintain the authorized hours of every current HUDS employee until such time as they elect a new position or role within the department OR HUDS and the union can work collaboratively to develop new schedules that maintain our commitment to sustainable jobs and meeting student needs,” Martin wrote.

HUDS will still reserve the right to reevaluate whether vacant positions are necessary for operations as students’ needs change over time, Martin added.

Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo wrote in an emailed statement that the union will continue to campaign for “meaningful job security.”

“We are continuing to meet with Harvard in the hope of negotiating a contract that moves dining hall workers forward, not backward,” he wrote. “We have not yet achieved meaningful job security that would guarantee that cafeteria workers will not lose income after returning to work following the covid-19 related shut downs.”

Job security has long been a central issue for Harvard’s dining workers. During the last round of contract negotiations, dining workers went on strike for 22 days, in part over “sustainable jobs” and summer employment. This past summer, the union also rallied in front of the Law School to protest layoffs of former contracted workers as dining services positions at the Law School were incorporated directly into HUDS.

“We will continue to campaign until that modest goal is achieved,” Aramayo added.

—Staff writer Cara J. Chang can be reached at cara.chang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @CaraChang20.

—Staff writer Meimei Xu can be reached at meimei.xu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @meimeixu7.

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