new HUDS contract and the strike that paved the way | Opinion

There is much to celebrate in the Harvard dining halls. After months of deliberation, Harvard and UNITE HERE Local 26, the union of Harvard University Dining Services employees, ratified a five-year contract that ensures pay increases, greater job security and continued medical coverage. current granted to union members. . 99.45 percent – virtually all of the union’s voting members – voted to approve it.

The deal comes after years of small battles and big actions that together helped make this biggest victory possible – including a campus-wide strike in 2016 that crippled food service in mess halls and inspired new labor movements on other campuses in the Boston area. .

We are delighted with the ratification of this new contract, which could not have happened without the tireless efforts of UNITE HERE Local 26. We are particularly pleased that Harvard has offered jobs to contract workers who were laid off during the year. last during the Covid-19 crisis. budget cuts, workers we implored Harvard to protect, even at the expense of its bottom line.

While we frequently applaud the work of our undergraduate activists – as we did earlier this month in the wake of the Harvard Management Corporation divestment from fossil fuels – the successes of campus workers are just as worthy of recognition. UNITE HERE Local 26 follows a coalition-based union organizing philosophy, representing workers in all sectors of the hospitality industry such as hotels, games, restaurants, laundry and textiles in Massachusetts and the Rhode Island. This global model has proven to be powerful and logical: the struggles of workers everywhere are likely to mirror the struggles of workers everywhere. Campuses forming new unions, as MIT did at the end of last month, should be inspired by the UNITE model.

This deal also comes in the midst of a lightning moment for campus work. 4 unions are currently negotiating new contracts with the university. Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers’ has just massively authorized a strike, as the union did before going on strike in the fall of 2019. Just as we supported the HGSU-UAW strike at the time and HUDS strike in 2016, we support HGSU-UAW by using its means to fight for better protection of workers.

UNITE HERE Local 26 and the University’s negotiation of a contract that works for workers illustrates the key role unions have played (and have played for two centuries) in ensuring a fairer America. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unionized workers are paid better and receive more benefits than their non-union counterparts. Sadly, America’s unions have been in decline for decades.

Many of the benefits and protections outlined in this new contract, which will shape the lives of Harvard workers for at least the next five years, were achieved after the 2016 HUDS strike. The 22-day case blew up the campus. The dining hall system, which many administrators see as the heart of campus life, collapsed as only 14 of 750 workers crossed the picket line (homes handed out frozen food). But it also prevented a new insurance scheme that would have deprived many workers of their health care – a seemingly lasting victory.

As we celebrate the successes of this union bargaining process and envision a potential HGSU-UAW strike on the horizon, we should remember the power that unions (and yes, strikes) have to improve people’s lives.

This staff editorial represents the majority opinion of The Crimson Editorial Board only. It is the product of discussions at regular editorial board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to express their opinion and vote at these meetings are not involved in the publication of articles on similar topics.

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