Harvard Medical School has announced the termination of a contract for 31 custodians, subcontracted through American Cleaning Company, citing a budget deficit of $40 million. The medical school's public mission should not include harming people who contribute to the Harvard Medical School community through their hard work and their tax dollars. They are not serving the public good by cost-shifting to the lowest-paid workers, and SLAM is fighting with these workers for their job security.
Harvard's Hotel, Harvard's Standards
Workers at the Doubletree Hotel in Allston, owned by Harvard Real Estate, are seeking a fair process to decide on unionization without harassment from management. Workers there have stories of mistreatment by management—housekeeper Delmy Lemus said, “My back was injured because when I was pregnant my managers continued to assign me the same workload...I worked until 3 days before my daughter, Arianna, was born.”
In 2011, Harvard gave Law School dining hall workers a right to a fair process. Harvard has historically been friendly toward its own workers and should extend that respect across the river. The Harvard community and SLAM stands with Doubletree workers. Harvard should do the same.
Insomnia Workers on Strike
At 12:00 am on Sunday, August 18, the night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies voted to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, better job stability, and freedom to build a union. Shortly after, striking workers were fired. Insomnia Cookies, with around 30 locations in the Northeast and Midwest, caters to college students and runs late night deliveries of warm cookies and milk to dorm rooms. Still delivering cookies until 2:45 am, Insomnia workers who double-duty as bakers and cashiers receive only 9$ an hour, while “drivers,” who are expected to deliver cookies by bicycle within a half hour, receive only 5$ an hour plus tips. Neither receive healthcare, at a job where turnover is so high, the typical employee lasts only a few months. SLAM stands in solidarity with Insomnia workers in their fight for better working conditions.
This year, three large sectors of Harvard’s unionized workforce will be re-negotiating their contracts. Dining service, custodial, and security workers perform vital labor that contributes greatly to the day-to-day functioning and high caliber of this institution. Given that Harvard is one of the primary employers in greater Boston, it is responsible for the well-being of countless community members and residents. SLAM is working to rally campus and local community support behind Harvard workers as they struggle to secure fair contracts that guarantee sustainable jobs.
HEI Workers Rising
Workers at hotels in Cambridge, California, Virginia and other locations run by HEI Hotels and Resorts are under attack because they want a fair process to decide whether or not to have a union. While workers face harassment and intimidation for standing up and speaking out, HEI uses the good name of its investors to rake in more money and improve its public image. Who are those investors? Mainly Ivy League universities like Yale, Brown, and Harvard. We are calling on the administration to use its role as an investor in HEI to pressure that company to drop intimidation and let its workers decide for themselves whether they want a union or not.