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PHOTOS: Harvard dining hall employees start first day of strike

Members of UNITE HERE Local 26 say they are striking for a minimum $35,000 salary and more affordable health benefits.

Students and dining hall workers picketed and marched outside of Harvard University Wednesday, the first day of a strike overwhelmingly endorsed last month by union members.

Negotiators were in talks for a 19th session Tuesday evening before the strike began at 6 a.m. Wednesday, though no agreement could be reached in time. The contract ended on Sept. 17.

Negotiators with UNITE HERE Local 26 said the union has two major demands in its talks with management: a minimum income of $35,000 for its workers and affordable health insurance.

Workers are also asking Harvard to drop proposals that would make basic medical services “prohibitively expensive,” according to a statement from the union.

The school has said previously that it believes its dining hall employees receive “highly competitive” wages that are among the highest, both nationally and locally.

So far, the strikers have a growing number of supporters on campus, including endorsements from the Harvard Crimson editorial board and Undergraduate Council.

More than 3,300 signatures have been added to an online petition, the union said.

 

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