Harvard University students and dining hall workers rally for union contract

harvard-rally-4.28.15Harvard-Local26-crimson-01Workers who prepare food for Harvard students held a rally in Harvard Square Tuesday night. The workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 26, said it marked the beginning of activity aimed at securing a new union contract with the University.

Workers spoke about their pride in working for Harvard University, particularly in relationship to the students.

“It’s important to me that I make the students feel at home,” said Fatima Leighton, a dining room lead in Annenberg Hall. “My own daughter is in college now and I hope someone is taking care of her the way I take care of Harvard students.”

Workers spoke about the importance of maintaining affordable quality healthcare for them and their families.

“Now that I’m pregnant with my second daughter it’s a relief to have good health insurance,” said Harvard Kennedy School dining services worker Dianela Barros. “I can save money for my children’s future. I want them all to go to college!”

Concern was expressed about Harvard shifting healthcare costs onto the faculty members earlier this year.

“We have a lot of experience figuring out how to manage healthcare costs responsibly,” said UNITE HERE Local 26 President Brian Lang. “We have reached out to Harvard to begin a dialogue. We have not heard back yet.”