Dear President Rudenstine, Provost Fineberg, and members of the Harvard Administration,
Fuerza Latina wholeheartedly supports the Progressive Student Labor Movement's efforts to secure a living wage of $10.25 an hour for Harvard employees. As an organization which serves and represents Latino students of all ethnic, racial, national, and cultural backgrounds, we feel a strong responsibility to Harvard's lowest-paid employees, whom we consider to be an integral and indispensable part of the Harvard community. Furthermore, as students of color, we question how the University can uphold its commitment to diversity and equality within its student community while marginalizing and mistreating any of its employees.
Of the approximately 380 directly hired employees, 650 casual employees, and over 500 subcontracted workers that we know to be receiving less than a living wage, many are of Latino and/or Caribbean heritage. In these employees we see our own families: our grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and cousins who worked and continue to work for low wages under inadequate conditions.
We choose to advocate for these employees because we understand the barriers that prevent them from advocating for themselves freely, such as limited proficiency in the English language, limited time due to the several jobs they must hold in order to secure food and shelter for their families, lack of union representation for casual and many subcontracted employees, and the real possibility of being fired or reprimanded for speaking out for better working conditions.
We believe that even one Harvard employee making less than a living wage is too many, and we advocate a minimum standard of a living wage of $10.25 an hour for all Harvard employees (whether employed directly or subcontracted) along with basic health benefits. Though we understand that the Harvard administration and some members of the Harvard community may not agree with the Progressive Student Labor Movement's tactics, we urge you not to lose sight of the moral issue at the center of this debate. Is it morally acceptable, in one of the world's most respected and wealthiest educational institutions, where a University fund manager is paid as much as $10 million per year, to deny any employee the right to a decent standard of living?
We hope that you will agree with us that the answer is no, and that you will work with employees, students, professors, alumni, and union representatives to implement better working conditions and to secure a living wage.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
The officers and members of Fuerza Latina