A group of around forty Harvard employees, students, and sympathetic local citizens gathered outside the Holyoke Center yesterday evening to protest the University’s labor policies, calling for more fiscal transparency and an end to furloughs.
Protestors demanded that Harvard “open their books” to prove that they cannot create more union jobs, despite difficult financial times.
“It is abundantly clear to one and all that Harvard has the money to satisfy our demands,” said Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers member Thompson Potter, referencing the University’s $26 billion dollar endowment.
The protest also focused on the conversion of full-year positions into seasonal jobs.
“We want Harvard to create more union jobs and stop exploiting temps,” said HUCTW member Geoffrey Carens. Carens, who helped organize the protest, is part of a leftist core group of about 10 union members known as “Reform HUCTW” that does not represent the views of all union members.
HUCTW members were joined by Service Employees International Union Local 615 members, and college students from the Student Labor Action Movement.
The protesters carried posters that read “Harvard Gambles, Workers Lose” and “Layoffs Are Not the New Crimson” and chanted mantras such as “they say cutback, we say fight back, they say layoff we say back off, they say furlough we say hell no.”
College students from SLAM said they were happy to be at the protest to show their support for the University’s laborers.
“The student body is waking up a little bit,” said SLAM member Colette S. Perold ’11. “We are here and we are keeping our eyes peeled.”
The protest came in the wake of HUCTW’s announcement that it has begun its eighth round of contract negotiations with the University. To mark the beginning of negotiations, the union released a letter which emphasized the generally amicable relationship between Harvard and the union.
—Staff writer Sofia E. Groopman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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