Strike ends as Harvard, union agree on dining workers contract

Strike ends as Harvard, union agree on dining workers contract

A minimum annual pay of $35,000 now the “new standard for foodservice workers,” says union head.

UPDATED 10/27 10:50 a.m.

After a three-week work stoppage, Harvard University and Unite Here Local 26 reached an agreement on a new five-year labor contract for foodservice workers at the university when the union membership voted to approve the settlement late Wednesday, Oct. 26. The deal mandates a minimum annual salary of $35,000, which includes seasonal pay of $2,400 for workers laid off over the summer, and no increase in the amount workers pay for health insurance.

Local 26 President Brian Lang said the annual $35,000 minimum “is the new standard for foodservice workers,” according to the Boston Globe. The union represents foodservice workers at several other universities in the Northeast, including MIT, Brandeis and Northeastern, as well as venues like the Boston Convention Center, Fenway Park, Boston Logan Airport and the Boston Globe.

Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) acknowledged the end of the strike with a message to students on its website. The transition back to normal operating hours would “take a few days,” it said, but all dining halls should be reopening the morning of Friday, Oct. 28, along with all retail cafes.

“While most of our operation will be up and running by the weekend, it will take about 1-2 weeks before we have a regular, full menu in place at all locations,” the statement added.

The effect the new deal on HUDS labor costs and how that will affect operations going forward were yet to be determined at press time.

The following statement was issued by HUDS in response to an FM request for comment:

"Harvard is pleased that members of UNITE HERE Local 26, the union that represents the University’s dining services workers, have ratified a new, five-year contract, which signals a reasonable resolution to negotiations.
"The agreement addresses the wage and health insurance concerns raised by Local 26, while also achieving the affordable wages and health insurance plan design changes sought by the University at a time of constrained resources.
"Throughout this negotiation, the University has sought a resolution that maintains superior compensation for our dining workers, acknowledging their role as integral members of the Harvard community. Through this contract, with average 2.5 percent annual hourly wage increases and the introduction of a summer stipend, all employees who work fulltime over 38 weeks will earn more than $35,000. Members of Local 26 will also experience a shift in health insurance plan design in 2019, consistent with those agreed to by other unions on campus. Harvard will protect lower-wage workers from burdensome cost increases by seeding flexible savings accounts and out-of-pocket reimbursement funds through 2021. The Union also agreed to changes in retiree health that will make their insurance plan consistent with all of Harvard's exempt employees and 5,000 members of other unions on campus.
"Harvard University Dining Services will resume full operations over the next few days. We look forward to welcoming our dining services employees back to campus."


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