Friday, May 13, 2011

Dining Hall Workers Rally During Contract Negotiations

Dining Hall Workers Rally in The Yard
Yale University dining hall workers and students join their Harvard counterparts for a union demonstration in Harvard Square on Thursday night. The protest followed a meeting and discussion and a negotiation session between Unite Here Local 26 and the University.
Harvard dining hall workers, students and Unite HERE members from across New England marched through the Yard Thursday night holding signs and chanting “we want justice” and “union power.”
The march ended in the area outside of the Holyoke Center where the crowd sung a version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” with lyrics adapted for the union.
As the marchers traveled through the yard swinging colorful glow sticks, accompanied by a union-led band, they picked up a number of spectators and drew some students to watch from the sidelines.
Earlier that day, University officials met with members of Unite HERE Local 26—the union that represents Harvard dining hall workers—as part of their contract renegotiations.
Union leadership offered few details about the nature of the negotiations and the University declined to comment late Thursday night.
Members of the Yale dining hall workers’ chapter of Unite HERE also met with University officials in that meeting.
Following that meeting, the union members met with student supporters in First Parish Church before kicking off the rally.
At the church, the two school’s unions discussed the differences in their contracts.
Harvard and Yale workers said they want many of the elements contained in the Yale workers’ contracts to be included in the newest contract for the Harvard dining hall workers, including full-time employment, more job training opportunities for workers, and increased job security.
“In New Haven, we have a source of inspiration,” said Unite HERE Local 26 president Brian Lang, who called five Yale workers up to the stage.
The Yale workers proceeded to discuss the struggle they endured before obtaining their current contract, including 11 strikes. The speakers said their struggle was ultimately worth the pay-off.
“We stand here today with full-time employment. We stand here with no lay-off language—period. We stand here with 100 percent free medical,” said Robert “Bob” Proto, president of Unite HERE Local 35, which represents Yale dining hall workers. “There’s a standard of quality of jobs that Harvard needs to raise up to Yale’s.”
Lang said that the Yale workers made a presentation to Harvard officials during the negotiations earlier in the day Thursday and that the Yale workers presented some “very concrete solutions to the problems we’ve been facing.”
Harvard dining hall workers also spoke during the First Parish Church meeting, saying that they are fighting for a contract that benefits the entire University.
“We’re here tonight to make life better for everybody,” said Ed Childs, a chef in Adams House and a union official. “The problem is there are some people on the other side who do not want to make life better. But we intend to win because we intend to be united, workers, students, and faculty.”
Childs then proceeded to grab the hands of a student and a worker and raised them high, a symbol that would be repeated throughout the night, and drew thunderous applause from the audience.
Students also expressed support for the dining hall workers.
Undergraduate Council president Senan Ebrahim ’12 spoke about the symbiotic relationship between students and dining hall workers.
“Every time I’ve been in a dining hall, workers have had my back,” Ebrahim said. “Now, it’s our turn.”
SLAM member Naimonu A. James ’14 received a standing ovation from the energized attendees when she expressed SLAM’s dedication to the workers’ cause. With over 50 students standing behind her, James said, “No matter what this takes or how long it takes, we’re going to get this done, and we’re going to get each other through it.”
—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dining Hall Workers To Rally in The Square

Dining Hall Workers To Rally in The Square

Yale University dining hall workers and students will join their Harvard counterparts at a meeting for the local chapter of Unite Here to share negotiation strategies they have employed to reach an agreement on their current contract with Yale.

The meeting and discussion will follow a negotiation session between Unite Here Local 26 and the University in which both sides will put forth their official proposals for the coming contract negotiations. After the discussion with those at Yale, Unite Here members plan to rally in the Square.

Friday, May 6, 2011

SLAM Rallies in Support of Workers

The Student Labor Action Movement has kicked off its sustainable jobs campaign to rally student support for University dining hall workers who will be re-negotiating their contracts in the coming year.
The campaign comes a week before Unite Here! Local 26, the union for Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Hall Services workers, plans to submit its contract proposal to the University.
For the campaign, SLAM has placed posters across campus that state SLAM’s demands for Harvard workers, which include greater job security and more access to full-time employment.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dining Hall Workers Hit Hard by New Calendar

From the Crimson
In the Heat of the Kitchen
Harvard’s calendar reform leaves HUDS employees scrambling

Anxiety didn’t disappear for everyone when students finished their exams before Christmas—in fact, for many employees of Harvard University Dining Services, it was only beginning. While students reveled during Harvard’s new five-week winter break, the dining halls closed one by one, leaving the staff essentially unemployed from the last week of December to the last week of January.
Harvard does allocate paid leave for the breaks in the academic calendar. The system is based on seniority; according to the existing contract, which is set to expire next June, HUDS employees accrue an annual three weeks of paid vacation after five years of continuous service, and every additional five years of continuous service results in another week of paid vacation every year. However, with the long-awaited arrival of J-Term, workers are forced to spread their paid vacation over not one but two lengthy breaks.
“I’ve been here for 35 years, and I have no vacation time left,” says Edward B. Childs, a cook in Adams House and the chief shop steward at HUDS for Unite Here, the union that represents the employees.
With fewer days of work, HUDS employees are more dependent than ever on second jobs. But due to the recession, layoffs are rolling across the restaurants, mail centers, and hotels that HUDS employees have come to rely on. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national leisure and hospitality industry has shrunk by approximately 500,000 employees since January 2008, and the total weekly hours worked by all employees dropped 7 percent over that same time period before experiencing slight gains last month.
Childs says that the unique combination of calendar reform and a struggling job market has taken its toll on HUDS employees. “We suspect that some will lose their homes, be evicted, and become homeless within the next year,” Childs says. Moreover, he predicts that the crisis will especially affect single mothers and the younger, inexperienced workers who haven’t earned many days of paid leave, both of whom make up a large part of the HUDS work force.
Of course, the HUDS contract has its advantages, in part because of the same bleakness of the current outside options. According to Johnny R. Montes, who has worked in Annenberg’s kitchen for 20 years, the “security of the job” was his favorite part of being hired by Harvard.
“We believe that Harvard provides a very comprehensive benefits package, which is part of the union bargaining agreement that is approved by the workers,” says Crista Martin, Director for Marketing and Communications for HUDS, when asked about the issue of paid vacation.
However, the current contract was signed in June 2006, almost a year before Harvard’s governing boards announced calendar reform for the 2009-2010 school year and 18 months before the beginning of the current recession as determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research. “It’s drastically affected us. You’re talking about four weeks, no pay,” Childs says. “It’s put us behind in our rents and our savings for the summer time.”
With very little opportunity to get jobs outside Harvard, HUDS employees are scrambling to get second jobs at the university, which is also proving to be a challenge. “There’s no other thing that’s there for us,” Childs says of the alternatives. “They haven’t given us any safety net.”
In response to their struggling members, the union is more active than ever, making sure its members have access to food stamps and other services. But the ultimate goal is for more sustainable, long-term change; in short, the HUDS staff hopes that the University administration will re-assess the logistics of the new calendar. “Harvard should really give some money to hold us over until we come back after J-Term,” suggests Larry E. Houston, a shop steward at Annenberg. But Childs believes that the solution lies elsewhere.
“We’re telling Faust that we need jobs,” he says, softly pounding his fist on the table. “We’re literally looking to survive.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dining Hall Workers Rally With Students

For the record, there were about 10 HUCTW members in attendance supporting our UNITE HERE brothers and sisters.

Dining Hall Workers Rally With Students
Published: Friday, February 25, 2011
Dining hall workers and Harvard students gathered in Cambridge’s First Parish Church yesterday for a member meeting of the workers’ union before spilling into the streets of Harvard Square and coming to a shouting protest in front of the Holyoke Center.
The meeting, organized by the Boston area hospitality union Unite Here Local 26, focused on procuring “justice and respect” for dining hall workers in the coming contract negotiations with the University.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crimson - HUCTW Rallies Against Walker Ban

HUCTW Rallies Against Walker Ban
Mellow music played in the background as union supporters and their opponents chanted across a divided, police monitored Beacon Street in front of the Massachusetts State House yesterday.
The rally was a reaction to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed ban on collective bargaining in the state. Massachusetts union workers were called upon by their unions to show support for government union members in Wisconsin.
Unions in attendance at yesterday’s rally included the Boston Public School Teachers Union, Service Employees International Union, Iron Workers Local Union No. 7 and Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rally to Support Wisconsin Workers - TODAY!

Support the Rights of Wisconsin Workers
Tuesday, February 22nd
Massachusetts State House

Join workers from across Massachusetts to show support for our sisters and brothers in Wisconsin who are fighting to keep workers' rights alive. Click here for more info on their struggle.

Sponsored by: Mass Teachers Assn., AFT Massachusetts Mass AFL-CIO. Greater Boston Central Labor Council, AFSCME Council 93, SEIU Local 509, 1199 SEIU, SEIU Local 888, Jobs With Justice and many others.

For more information call 617-524-8778 or go to

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Clerical Workers support our sisters and brothers in UNITE HERE Local 26!

No Layoffs Campaigners strongly support the below event by our sisters and brothers in UNITE HERE Local 26, who work in Harvard's dining halls. Please consider attending. The event is open to all pro-union people.

You're invited!
To a meeting for all UNITE HERE Local 26 members at Harvard.

This will be the first general membership meeting to kick off our 2011 campaign for a new contract. Our contract expires in June. At this meeting we will discuss our proposals and our plans to win a better future, for each of us, for our families, and for each other.

Thursday, February 24, 8 p.m.
1st Parish Church in Cambridge
1 Church St. at Mass. Ave.