RESPONSE TO RUDENSTINE'S "FACTS AND FALLACIES ABOUT EMPLOYMENT AT HARVARD"

On April 27th, the Office of the President of Harvard University released a document, published in the Harvard University Gazette and sent out to the entire University as a mass e-mail, that aimed to refute alleged claims of the Living Wage Campaign. The document, we feel, represented an attempt to mislead the Harvard community on the facts concerning employment on the University campus. The document used deceptively narrow definitions to generate the impression that the problem of "poverty wages" at Harvard is a lot less serious than it actually is. The Living Wage Campaign maintains that at any given time, at least 1,179 Harvard workers earn less than $10.25 per hour and that many of these workers - and indeed many more at Harvard - continue to lack basic benefits such as health insurance. In addition, the document failed to outline any actual reason of why the Harvard administration should not provide a "living wage" and benefits to its workers.

The Administration claims: "403 of Harvard's 13,500 regular employees earn less than $10.25 an hour in wages."

The Administration claims: "The minimum starting [wage] of a residential dining service worker employed by Harvard is currently $10.85 per hour and after 2 years of service the per-hour rate is $12.35."

The Administration claims:"No full-time employee at Harvard earns less than $10.25 an hour in total compensation."

The Administration claims: "The University has established guidelines governing contracting with outside companies for service work for ongoing service to the Harvard campus of more than $50,000 per year and for periods of nine months or more. They specify that companies with whom Harvard contracts must maintain employment practices (including offering health insurance to employees who work 16 hours a week or more on the Harvard campus) consistent with the University's commitment to fairness for all workers."

STARTING WAGES FOR ALL UNIONIZED WORKERS MAKING LESS THAN $10.25/HOUR
Occupation Current Starting Wage Occupation Current Starting Wage
Parking Service Attendants $8.50 Cashier (Campus Restaurants) $8.30
Guards $8.50 Lead (Campus Restauramts) $8.80
Museum Attendants $8.50 Full-Time Custodian $9.65
Short-Order Cook $8.80 Part-Time Assistant Crew Chief $9.85
Counter (Campus Restauramts) $8.05 Part-Time Custodian $9.40

The Administration claims: "Health benefits were made available to all employees of the University who work at least two days a week as of Jan. 1, 2001."

The Administration claims: "Harvard's education and training program, the Harvard Bridge to Learning and Literacy, is one of the most innovative and generous employer-based education programs in the nation. It provides courses to entry level workers in English-as-a-second-language, basic literacy, GED, and computer literacy."

The Administration claims: "President Rudenstine and Provost Fineberg have open office hours on a regular basis in which they meet with any student wishing to consult them on any subject. They have met repeatedly with student advocates of the Living Wage during office hours, during visits to Houses, and at meetings specifically scheduled to issues relating to employment practices at Harvard."

The Harvard University administration has attempted to discredit the "living wage campaign" by challenging the stated facts of low-wage employment at Harvard. In doing so, the administration has tried to move the debate away from whether or not Harvard should implement a "living wage" towards whether or not the "living wage campaign" is credible. However, the move to debate facts is itself evasive. Why, for example, should Harvard's decision to implement a "living wage" depend upon whether there are 400 or 1200 workers earning below $10.25 per hour in wages? This document establishes the basic facts of employment in Harvard, citing almost exclusively administration sources. Hopefully, there will be no more dispute over facts. Maybe we can now move back to the real question that the University has attempted to conceal:

WHY NOT IMPLEMENT A LIVING WAGE NOW?