Workers 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.”