Hundreds of Harvard University dining hall workers and supporters marched from Harvard Square to Cambridge City Hall on Saturday. The unionized workers—represented by Unite Here Local 26–are into the third week of a strike demanding higher wages and more affordable health care. Negotiations with the university broke down in September and the last minute efforts to avert a strike failed. With an endowment of $35 billion Harvard can afford it, says union spokesman, Jonah Zinn:
"Most of our members make less than $30,000 a year. Many only work seven months a year because Harvard closes a lot of the dining halls in the summer. They’re fighting us tooth nail over these issues, which amount to pennies for them, but really life changing amounts of money for us."
Harvard defends its wage scale and argues that at $22 per hour, the school’s dining hall workers are better compensated than food service workers in comparable positions. It is the first strike by Harvard dining hall workers since 1983.