Dining hall workers at Harvard University voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, union officials announced Friday.
Members of the UNITE HERE Local 26 voted 591 to 18 to start a strike two weeks from Friday if their demands are not met: a $35,000 sustainable yearly income and affordable health care.
According to a statement from the union, the average Harvard dining services worker made less than $35,000 last year. While many want to work a 52-week year, most were only offered 38 weeks, the union said.
“We are the first people to greet Harvard students in the morning and make sure they are fed and healthy,” employee Anabela Pappas said. “But if Harvard makes these changes, many of us will have to neglect a visit to the doctor.”
An editorial in the student newspaper came out in favor of the strike this week, and medical students at the university held their own rally at the school’s Longwood Medical campus Monday.
Undergraduates at the school are circulating a petition in favor of the striking workers, collecting 2,460 signatures.
Dining hall workers are scheduled to meet one last time with negotiators Friday — their 15th session since the process began on May 20. An additional session with a federal mediator is scheduled for Sept. 27.
The school has previously defended its contract with dining hall employees, saying they are among the most competitive benefits in the nation.