The contract negotiations between Harvard and Local 26 - representing the dining service workers - produced serious substantive gains for low wage workers on this campus. In particular, workers at cash operations will see immediate gains between $0.82/hr to $1.63/hr - and over forty additional workers will receive a living wage as a result. They will also get subsequent yearly raises of $0.32/hr over the next five years. Those employed at board operations will see yearly raises of $0.40/hr over the next four years, after an immediate one time raise of $0.45/hr. Moreover, Harvard also agreed to cap the use of casual employment at 10% of total hours of employment. These gains are a testament to the collective efforts of workers and students on this campus - especially over the past month during the occupation of Massachusetts Hall.
However, we are disappointed that Harvard University failed to take moral leadership and did not implement a living wage for dining service workers. Starting wages for cash operations are all under ten dollars an hour. Given the current structure of tenure, at least eight dining service workers will be making less than a living wage this June. Moreover, the yearly wage increases of $0.32/hr for the cash operations workers over the duration of the five year contract are not indexed to the cost of living. For instance, consumer prices in the Boston Area rose by 4.4% last year. In contrast, someone making $10.25/hr will see wages rise by less than 3.2% from the $0.32/hr yearly increase. Without a doubt, extending a living wage to the handfull of remaining workers, and indexing the starting wages to the local cost of living, would have been an easy thing for Harvard to do. Its failure to do this is baffling given that it would have been financially trivial, and it would have been done through collective bargaining - a channel Harvard supposedly respects. This failure demonstrates the need for this community to remain vigilant. We will continue our efforts and our actions until every worker on this campus - including every dining service worker - is paid a living wage with benefits.