Reprinted from Buzzfeed by Molly Hensley-Clancy on October 19, 2016.
Harvard University’s food service workers have been on strike since October 5, and there’s no clear end in sight. The university is still pushing back against their union’s demands: a minimum annual salary of $35,000, and no price hikes for workers on the school’s healthcare plan.
As the strike drags on, the university has resorted to staffing open dining halls with managers, temporary employees, and administrative workers, who were asked to volunteer their time serving food and swiping dining cards. A small group of students has even been asked by college administrators to volunteer as striking workers walk on picket lines outside, two students said.
The strike, Harvard’s first in decades, has drawn outsized attention because of the school’s enormous endowment, which is over $35 billion, making it by far the world’s richest university. A viral Tweet last week pointed out that Harvard had just received a $10 million grant to study poverty in the Boston area as its food service employees were on strike for what they called a “living wage.”
Neither Harvard nor the union appears to have budged much in negotiations. Harvard has been emphatic that it is offering dining hall workers a fair deal: a wage that is the highest among food service workers in the Boston area, a Harvard spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News, and a healthcare plan that — while it increases some costs — has been accepted by thousands of other unionized Harvard workers. …