URGENT: The Presidential Advisory Committee Wants Your Input on the Need for a Living Wage

Dear Concerned Harvard Community Member,

As you may know, one of the many victories that resulted from our sit-in last spring was the creation of the Harvard Committee on Employment & Contacting Policies, composed of 2 administrators and 11 faculty members handpicked by then-President Rudenstine serving alongside four elected student representatives and three union representatives. This presidential advisory committee (sometimes referred to as the "Katz Committee," after its chair) has been charged with soliciting input from all members of the Harvard Community, and your letter explaining how Harvard can become a more responsible employer will make an important impact. Because the committee must issue its recommendations to President Summers by December 19th, we are asking that all public comments be made to hcecp@harvard.edu by mid November.

We cannot let the committee or the President believe that the consensus we built in our community last spring supporting a living wage was short-lived. We must tell them that our support for Harvard's workers is as strong as ever. If you support a living wage, LET THE COMMITTEE KNOW! Please take the time to read the sample letter below, and then write a letter of your own to the committee. In writing your letter, we recommend stressing the following points:

  • that you are writing as a concerned member of the Harvard community who feels the University must act responsibly towards the interests and needs of all community members, including those who work on this campus
  • that you are writing in response to their request for a broad range of input
  • that you feel this Committee has the chance to set an important precedent of involving students and workers in decision-making processes at Harvard and actually responding to their concerns
  • that the data just released by this Committee confirms that the wages of over a thousand Harvard workers leave them deep in poverty and have been deteriorating over the past decade
  • that in order for Harvard to fulfill its duty as a fair and responsible employer, it must implement the following reforms:

    1. An annually adjusted living wage floor for all workers, designed to meet the basic cost of living in metropolitan Boston.
    2. Accessible and affordable benefits for all workers including health insurance and education, regardless of whether they work for a contractor or how many hours they work.
    3. Bringing outsourced service work back in-house, so that workers have job security and so that Harvard can more efficiently ensure their welfareand productivity.
    4. Opportunities for full time work when desired, with provisions for seasonal employment (e.g. making other campus jobs available to dining hall workers during the vacation months when dining halls are closed).
    5. Card-check neutrality: in short, agreeing not to oppose workers' attempts to organize, and bargaining collectively with them when the majority have expressed their desire for a union by signing cards - and requiring contractors to also comply with and respect this right.

Please take the time to craft your own individual letter. If you do not have the time to do this, we ask that you show your support by signing and mailing in the sample letter below.

Thank you for your time and effort. While the committee exists merely to advise President Summers, their strong recommendation for a living wage could make it difficult for him to do otherwise. With the organized statement of our support as a community for a living wage, we have the opportunity to make a real difference for Harvard's workers.

Thanks, the Harvard Living Wage Campaign

P.S. To explore the Harvard Committee on Employment & Contracting Policies, please visit: www.hcecp.harvard.edu.


SAMPLE LETTER - PLEASE WRITE YOUR OWN IF POSSIBLE

To the Harvard Committee on Employment & Contracting Policies:

As a (faculty member/student/alumnus) at/of Harvard, I am writing in response to your request for input to your study of Harvard's employment practices.

First, I want to underscore the importance of your work - as the first committee at Harvard that officially incorporates both workers and students as equal, valuable voices into a decision-making process on employment, the HCECP can and should set a powerful precedent for labor policy at Harvard that not only considers unofficially but actually includes the judgment of workers and students on our campus. It is only in this way that such decisions can be said to be made by an inclusive process.

Especially in light of the data just released by the Committee, the nature of the situation is clear. Hundreds of service workers on our campus attest to the fact that no matter how hard they work, they can not earn enough to get by, a situation that degrades not only their own health and well-being, but is reflected in their sense of alienation from the University community. This not only deprives these workers of the respect they deserve but also brings shame upon our University. The seriousness of this situation demands five major reforms in Harvard's employment policies.

  1. An annually adjusted living wage floor for all workers, designed to meet the basic cost of living in metropolitan Boston.

  2. Accessible and affordable benefits for all workers including health insurance and education for all, regardless of whether they work for a contractor or how many hours they work.

  3. Bringing outsourced service work back in-house, so that workers have job security and so that Harvard can more efficiently ensure their welfare and productivity.

  4. Opportunities for full time work when desired, with provisions for seasonal employment (e.g. making other campus jobs available to dining hall workers during the vacation months when dining halls are closed).

  5. Card-check neutrality: in short, not interfering with workers' attempts to organize, and bargaining collectively with them when the majority have expressed their desire for a union by signing cards - and requiring contractors to also comply with and respect this right.

I believe that the implementation of these reforms will be an important and necessary step toward making Harvard a fair and just institution that values the contributions and rights of all members of the community.

I thank you for your consideration of my views.

Sincerely,