Harvard’s lack of respect to the workers who make the university run is disgraceful

Hypocrisy at the world’s richest university

Three weeks since HUDS workers went on strike, there is still no agreement in sight. Though Harvard administration say that there are hopeful signs that an agreement can be made, the fact of the matter remains, that in three weeks Harvard couldn’t care to treat their workers like humans.

Harvard recently received a $10 million grant to study racial hardship and poverty in African American communities, the irony in the matter is that Harvard is contributing to this by not providing their workers with adequate healthcare and basic workers comp.

In a university where the endowment is around $40 billion dollars annually, you’d think that Harvard’s first priority would be towards its workers and students. But so far Harvard has failed on both ends. Their workers are on strike, and students are being fed meals that are sometimes undercooked.

In the administration’s defense, they have said: “The dining-hall workers make an average of almost $22 per hour, more than the $15 living wage required by the People’s Republic of Cambridge. Moreover, the university says that health-care costs are going up all over the country and dining-hall workers are going to have to bear some of the brunt of that.” But how does one of the most endowed universities in the world struggle to give their dining hall workers $35,000 wages and adequate health benefits?

The university has argued they “simply can’t just go into their endowment money,” but the alumni community has made it clear they are in support of the workers and that “the university has to stop being stubborn and give these workers the basic necessities that they require” This is not a question of money but morality.

Workers currently on strike are doing so without pay. Students across campus have joined in supporting the workers by walking out of class and joining them at the picket line, or by bringing meals to strikers. But what makes all of us passionate about this issue?

This is best summed up by worker Rosa Ines River’s op-ed in the New York Times, published this morning.

She says:

“On my way to work each morning, I pass a building with the inscription: ‘The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.’ If Harvard believes this, why is the administration asking dining hall workers to pay even more for our health care even though some of us pay as much as $4,000 a year in premiums alone?

Harvard’s lack of respect to the workers who make the university run day to day is disgraceful. When one of its workers are struggling to pay a co-pay, or when strikes get to the point where people are getting arrested, you’d think the university would want an end to that.

The dining hall staff is always there for us, when there’s a blizzard or major flooding. Some workers will sleep in the hall just to make sure we’re fed. We owe everything to our D-Hall staff and in the coming week hopefully Harvard will open their eyes and realize that in all of this, they are only hurting themselves.

If you’d like to support the workers on strike consider donating to the workers’ fund here.