BY HANK REICHMAN
In an update to my previous post on the continuing strike of food service workers at Harvard University, I called attention to a walkout by hundreds of Harvard students on Monday in support of the strikers. As the students and workers rallied, Kennedy School of Government lecturer Timothy P. McCarthy, a Harvard alum, ascended the steps of University Hall to address the crowd. McCarthy announced that he had “cut short” his lecture in Culture and Belief 49: “American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac” to walk out with his students. “Historic strikes bring together historic solidarity. When students are in solidarity with the workers it’s a good thing. I came here today in the spirit of one Harvard in supporting the dining hall workers during this strike.”
McCarthy then read aloud the text of a petition now circulating among Harvard faculty which, he said, had already garnered more than 150 signatures:
To date, Harvard has failed to address employees’ concerns of affordable health care and a sustainable annual income. HUDS workers fear increases in health care costs will mean that they and their families won’t be able to afford a trip to the doctor’s office. While asking workers to pay more for health care, the Harvard administration has also refused to guarantee a basic income of $35,000 a year for dining service workers.
Faculty members have experienced the effects of Harvard’s health care changes first hand. But we are among the most privileged members of this community. It is unjust to expect HUDS workers, who on average earn less than $35,000 annually, to shoulder the increasing costs of health care.
I don’t know more about this petition (I learned of it via coverage in the Harvard Crimson), but this sort of faculty solidarity with campus workers is most welcome and, perhaps, long overdue.