Harvard dining hall employees plan to start picketing the campus on Wednesday morning if a "fair agreement" isn't reached on a new contract, union officials said.
Among the workers’ demands is a guarantee that employees will receive at least $35,000 a year. Last year, the average salary failed to reach that level, union spokesperson Tiffany Eyck said. Lacking overtime hours, nearly 70 percent of employees failed to meet that income threshold, she said.
“Workers are demanding two simple things from the university administration: the ability to earn at least $35,000 a year and a health insurance program that does not shift costs onto those who can least afford it,” lead negotiator Michael Kramer wrote. “These are reasonable expectations anywhere, but especially at the richest university in the world.”
Workers voted to strike in a 591 to 18 vote on Sept. 15—not an easy decision, bargaining committee member Anabela Pappas said in a news release. Their contract expired on Sept. 17.
“We love our Harvard students and want them to eat healthy food that we cook,” she said. “Our students are as frustrated as we are that Harvard University told us it can’t afford to maintain our health care or pay sustainable incomes.”
In an earlier statement provided to The Crimson student newspaper, Harvard spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga said the school’s compensation plan was nationally competitive.
“Harvard’s dining hall workers currently receive highly competitive wages that lead the local and national workforce for comparable positions in the food service industry,” deLuzuriaga said. “The fact that the average tenure of a Harvard dining hall worker is 12 years is a testament to the quality of work opportunities here.”
The union’s last contract was ratified in 2013.