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Lessons from the 2016 Harvard Strike

  • Carlos Aramayo (a1)
Extract

For 22 days during the month of October 2016, more than 750 cooks, food servers, dishwashers, and cashiers struck Harvard University's dining halls. This was the first open-ended strike in the 380-year history of the institution. It drew national and international press and inspired many students, faculty, and members of the university community to rally in support of the workers. The strike's picket lines, marches, acts of civil disobedience, and building occupation became a collective repudiation of the corporate logic of the contemporary American university, one that privileges endowments, budgets, and HR departments over community, humanitarian values, and families. This was summed up in the slogan chanted thousands of times in Harvard Yard: “If we don't get it, SHUT IT DOWN!”

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NOTES

1. See, for example, Danielle Doug, “Harvard University dining hall workers strike over wages and health-care costs,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/10/05/harvard-university-dining-hall-workers-strike-over-wages-and-health-care-costs/ (accessed December 7, 2016); Katie Rogers, “No End in Sight to Strike by Harvard's Cafeteria Workers Over Wages,” New York Times, October 11, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/12/us/harvards-cafeteria-workers-strike.html (accessed December 7, 2016); and Michelle Chen, “The First Campus Strike in Over 30 Years Is Happening at Harvard,” The Nation, October 11, 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/the-first-campus-strike-in-over-thirty-years-is-happening-at-harvard/ (accessed December 7, 2016).

2. See Adam Vaccaro, “In 583–1 vote, Harvard dining hall workers OK labor contract,” The Boston Globe, October 26, 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/10/26/striking-harvard-workers-got-everything-they-wanted-says-union/OtLJHHoWcdXeiHbKi1WPIN/story.html and Emily Deruy (accessed December 7, 2016); Emily DeRuy, “The End of a Labor Strike at the World's Wealthiest University,” The Atlantic, October 25, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/10/harvard-and-dining-workers-reach-tentative-agreement-to-end-strike/505349/ (accessed December 7, 2016).

3. See Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Work Stoppages Summary,” last modified February 10, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkstp.nr0.htm (accessed December 10, 2016).

4. Dev A. Patel and Steven R. Watros, “Faculty Unanimously Passes Motion Asking Corp. to Reverse Health Benefits Changes,” The Harvard Crimson, November 5, 2014, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/11/5/faculty-benefits-motion-passes/. (accessed December 7, 2016).

5. UNITE HERE Local 26 press release, “Harvard dining hall workers will strike next Wednesday,” September 28, 2016.

6. The Crimson Editorial Board, “Support HUDS Workers,” The Harvard Crimson, September 13, 2016, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/9/13/support-HUDS-strike/ (accessed December 7, 2016).

7. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Hundreds of Harvard students stage a walkout, occupy building to support dining hall workers,” The Washington Post, October 24, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/10/24/hundreds-of-harvard-students-stage-a-walkout-occupy-building-to-support-striking-dining-hall-workers/ (accessed December 7, 2016); Sarah Betancourt, “Striking dining hall workers arrested amid protest over pay,” The Guardian, October 16, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/16/harvard-university-strike-dining-hall-workers-protest (accessed December 7, 2016).

8. Rosa Ines Rivera, “Struggling to Serve at the Nation's Richest University,” New York Times, October 24, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/12/us/harvards-cafeteria-workers-strike.html (accessed December 7, 2016).

9. See, for example, Nate Cohn, “Why Trump Won: Working-Class Whites,” The New York Times, November 9, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/upshot/why-trump-won-working-class-whites.html (accessed December 7, 2016) and Jim Tankersley, “How Trump won: The revenge of working-class voters,” The Washington Post, November 9, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/09/how-trump-won-the-revenge-of-working-class-whites/ (accessed December 7, 2016).

10. See Michael Kazin, “The Fall of the Unions Paved the Way for Donald Trump,” The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fall-of-the-unions-paved-the-way-for-donald-trump-1478886094 (accessed December 7, 2016).

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International Labor and Working-Class History
  • ISSN: 0147-5479
  • EISSN: 1471-6445
  • URL: /core/journals/international-labor-and-working-class-history
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