April 18, 2001

Harvard students stage protest to demand raise for employees

By Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- About 50 Harvard University students and community supporters started a sit-in Wednesday to demand pay raises for some university employees.

The group, which has the support of many professors, the Cambridge City Council and the city's mayor, staged the protest at Massachusetts Hall, which houses the office of the university president.

"We are here indefinitely until this labor policy is addressed by the administration," said Aaron Bartley, a third-year Harvard law student and a member of the Harvard Living Wage Campaign. "We have been negotiating for three years and there has been absolutely no progress."

The protesters want the university to pay all its employees at least $10.25 an hour, the same wage paid by the city of Cambridge.

The protesters said the university is the nation's wealthiest, but pays more than 1,000 of its direct and subcontracted employees as little as $6.50 an hour, while other Boston area universities pay people with similar duties up to $14 an hour.

"An institution with $19 billion in the bank doesn't have an excuse," Bartley said.

The university said in a statement that only 400 of its more than 13,000 employees make less than $10 an hour, and in recent years it has extended job training and literacy programs while offering expanded health benefits to those employees.

"Although we respect the passion and work of the students, we profoundly disagree with the way they want to do it," said Joe Wrinn, spokesman for the university.