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News :: Labor
Harvard Hunger Strike Ends
11 May 2007
Don't consider this post exhaustive, because I don't think I can do it justice, but the hunger strikers broke their fast today.

At the 1 PM rally today, we heard from a couple of members of the guards' bargaining committee who thanked the hunger strikers for everything they'd done and asked them to keep their health in mind. Then Michael read parts of a public statement issued today after the strikers' meeting with Marilyn Hausammann, the University's vice president for human resources. It affirmed Harvard's commitment to a living wage (in sort of ambiguous terms - I believe the phrasing was that the wage should ensure a "minimally decent" standard of living) and stated that Harvard does not intend to use outsourcing as a means for busting unions or lowering wages. The University will publicize the results of its audit of AlliedBarton's compliance with the parity policy sometime next week, probably Monday, and meet with SLAM representatives and other community members shortly after.

VIDEO: Watch interviews, the end of the strike, and more at (thanks to Aaron Tanaka):
http://youtube.com/profile?user=freedomisnot
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In an emotional moment a Harvard Security Guard offers soup to students as they brake their 9 day hunger strike.
Yesterday at 1pm, over a hundred Harvard students and workers turned out for the fourth day of mass rallies in support of newly unionized Harvard security guards and the 10 Harvard students who are on the eight day of an ongoing hunger strike to protest Harvard's failure to take responsibility for ensuring that the guards receive fair wages and working conditions in ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with security firm AlliedBarton.

At the rally, students and workers marched around Harvard President Derek Bok's office as they have every day for the past four days. Citing the Presidents' failure to agree to meet with hunger strikers and other concerned students, the crowd chanted "What's your problem Derek Bok, all we want to do is talk?" and "Whose Harvard? Our Harvard!" before forming a single file line and asking one by one to be admitted to the offices of the President. Each person in the line was denied access to the office by a team of five armed police officers who said they were acting on order from the Presidents' office not to allow anyone to enter.

Last in the line was Boston City Councilman Chuck Turner, who attempted to deliver a letter signed by himself and eight other city councilmen that accused Harvard of "denying its responsibility to campus workers" and "shifting the burden of its labor costs onto the city and onto the taxpayers." Despite a lengthy discussion with police officers on the steps of Harvard's Massachusetts Hall, Turner was denied entrance to Bok's office. He then turned to give an address to the crowd of gathered students in which he commended them for their outspoken support of the security guards and told them "You are Harvard's moral teachers."
The rally came amidst news that leaders from the Harvard Stand for Security Coalition had met with Harvard's Director of Labor Relations Committee and were demanding a meeting with Harvard's Vice President Alan Stone to discuss the formation of an independent committee of students, faculty, workers, and administrators to objectively assess the Coalition's claims that Harvard's security guard wages, at $12.68 an hour, are excessively low because they fall short not only of Cambridge and Boston self-sufficiency standards, but also of wages for other service sector workers at Harvard and security guard wages at other elite Universities around the nation.

Also on Thursday, the Coalition received a public letter of support from Noam Chomsky, Professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent national intellectual and activist.

As Kaveri, Michael, and a number of others said today, this is certainly a victory but the fight isn't over - Harvard can issue reassuring blanket statements without making any actual commitment to a living wage for security guards. So we have to keep up the pressure, and the union has to keep up the pressure. The fight is not over, and we still need your help.

But it was definitely good to see them eat again.

You can find the Statement from the Harvad Administration at:
http://www.stand4security.org/files/Admin%20statement%205-11-2007.pdf

Letter from City Councilors:
http://www.stand4security.org/files/chuckTurnerLetter.pdf

VIDEO: Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner tries to deliver letter to Harvard Administration yesterday, May 10, and is turned down:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SQzKOwRA1I&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fstand4secur

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES:
Students Hunger Strike at Harvard Forces AlliedBarton to Negotiate with Workers Union
http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/199343/index.php

Fifth Day of Hunger Strike: Harvard President’s Administration Vacates the Premises
http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/199300/index.php

Harvard Hunger Strike for Workers Rights
http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/199237/index.php
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Photos by Jonathan McIntosh
See more from this event at:
http://jonathanmcintosh.smugmug.com/gallery/2834050
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