October 18, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Cambridge, MA – The strike by food-service workers at Harvard University has entered its second week, with Senator Elizabeth Warren joining the picket line Oct. 11.
The university and UNITE HERE Local 26, which represents the 750 strikers, remain far apart on the issues that provoked the walkout, with no negotiations currently scheduled. A Harvard official said in a statement that the union has “refused to participate in any meaningful dialogue,” particularly about paying more for their health care. Local 26 President Brian Lang responded that the university was launching “a public-relations media campaign to try and vilify the union,” telling the New York Times that workers already pay $3,000 to $4,000 a year for family coverage. The workers make about $22 an hour during the school year, but most are not paid for the time off between semesters, and they are not eligible for unemployment benefits then. They are seeking an annual minimum of $35,000. Harvard has offered a stipend of $150 to $250 a week for the time between semesters, and says the union is demanding $450. The university has also asked its other employees to volunteer to scab in dining halls. Read more