Dear Friends:

I'm so sorry I can't be with you in person today as you are joined by America's labor leaders and the broader Harvard community, but I am with you in spirit. I have always believed that workers in this great country of ours deserve a living wage.

The issue of whether employers should pay a living wage is a question of the dignity of workers. Are we as a community going to respect individuals that work long and hard, who care for their families, who are our neighbors and friends, who take great pride in their work? I firmly believe that no one who works for a living should have to live in poverty, and I think most Americans understand that, too.

Throughout my career in the United State Senate, I have fought for a fair minimum wage for all workers, and have seen five bills pass the Congress to grant raises for minimum wage workers over that time. But in recent times, the U.S. Congress has blocked urgently needed wage increases for all of America's minimum wage workers. That's why last year, I joined janitors in Los Angeles in their successful struggle to increase their wages. And that's why I support your cause today. Justice was on their side in Los Angeles, and I believe your cause is just as well.

I am so proud of the Harvard students. You have stood up for a cause that is right and just. You have put your integrity on the line in the name of fairness and dignity for workers.

I am also proud of the Harvard workers. Whether you are employed directly by Harvard or by subcontractors, whether you are full-time or part-time, you perform difficult work with pride and dignity and you deserve to be treated fairly.

A solution that respects all Harvard workers, that respects the collective bargaining process, and that involves all affected members of the Harvard community is within our reach. I urge a renewed commitment by all involved to reach such a solution as soon as possible.

Edward M. Kennedy