Monday, April 30, 2007

Hunger Strike

I'm not the best essayist in the world, so I was trying to think of ways I could contribute to this blog outside of the realm of the essay, and I decided to stick to what I do best: write poetry. This is a poem I wrote about a group of hunger strikers I was able to meet during the beginning of the year.

Hunger Strike

When you first see them,
you see they are hunched slightly,
bent like bananas.
Their faces
lean, wrinkled aged beautifully
but their eyes
captured no light,
they didn't shine,
they weren't real.
Just beads,
like those of a toy.
Their eyes didn't scream pain intensely.
they were just sorta there.
And if i wanted to I could peel them off
their beautiful faces,
and roll them like bowling balls.

As I held their eyes in my hand,
I looked at them like crystal balls,
wanted to see how much longer
they could go on.

Their eyes told me
they were done.

Then they spoke.
Some voices quiet,
some voices loud,
all equally powerful.
They trembled with force,
passionately declared
"we're ready for another month!!
All we needed is each other
so bring it on, jack!
Cause we're not goin no where"

I dropped their eyes
as i realized that
the human spirit does not reside
in the eyes.


This time around I will not be participating in a 2 day solidarity fast, this time I will be the one fasting indefinitely. I know that after a few days I will seem weak, but I find solace in knowing that the fast can drain me of everything but my spirit.


Welcome to Stand for Security

Download a comprehensive hunger strike information packet.

Newly unionized Harvard security officers are in the process of bargaining their first contract. Harvard Stand for Security is a coalition dedicated to supporting officers in their contract negotiations. We believe that at the most prestigious and wealthy university in the world, it is shameful that workers are still lacking just wages, fair grievance procedures, and a safe and respectful work environment.

Harvard security officers work tirelessly to protect and serve our campus. If you believe that hardworking, full-time employees should be able to support their families, if you believe that everyone deserves dignity and respect at work, if you believe that secure employment should not be the luxury of the wealthy, then please join us in this campaign.

Join the Campaign
We need your help! Sign up here to get involved in the campaign!

Sign the petition

Add your name to the petition and let the Harvard administration and AlliedBarton know that you support Harvard workers.

Stay up to date



National Stand For Security Campaign
SEIU Local 615
Harvard Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM)
Harvard Living Wage Campaign (old)
Phillips Brooks House Association
American Rights at Work
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Coca Cola in India
Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers
Jobs with Justice
Killer Coke
Living Wage Action Coalition
Student Farmworker Alliance
Student Labor Action Project
Sweat Shop Watch
United Students Against Sweatshops
United Students for Fair Trade
Unite Here Local 26
US Labor Education in the America
Workers' Rights Consortium


Occupation - a film about the 2001 Harvard Sit-in
Solidarity - as defined by the Colbert Report

Recent Interaction with the Harvard Administration

On April 23, 2007 we wrote an open letter to President Bok.

On April 27, 2007 the administration responded in a letter [pdf] from Marilyn Hausammann.

On April 30, 2007 we responded [pdf]. Our letter's conclusion is below:

In sum, the members and allies of the Student Labor Action Movement find the University's presently articulated stance on this issue to be unacceptable. If, as it claims, the University truly does support our "shared goals of fair wages, a safe and secure workplace, and a proper grievance procedure for all workers in the Harvard community," then its choice should be clear. The University must choose to renounce its position that it has "no employment relationship" with its security officers and other outsourced workers. It must intervene, as it has many times before, to ensure high labor standards on campus. If the University instead chooses to deny responsibility and allow AlliedBarton to neglect the rights of its employees, it will only demonstrate that the administration does not share our goals in the least.

Harvard may not have directly hired our security guards, but it did directly hire AlliedBarton, and in doing so assumed responsibility for their labor standards. Harvard must hire its subcontractors with the same moral standards with which it hires its direct employees. Anything short of such a position will merely perpetuate the administration’s current policy of evasive rhetoric, convenient exemptions, and moral loopholes. Harvard must send a clear and unambiguous message to AlliedBarton: "treat our security guards fairly, or we'll take our business elsewhere." If Harvard cannot come out and make such a clear and unambiguous statement of moral values by Thursday, May 3, we will hold firm in our promise to begin a hunger strike of indefinite length on that date.

Upcoming Events

Media Coverage

Protesters' hunger strikes stir worry on campuses - 6/19/2007 - Boston Globe

Boston City Council joins Harvard protest - 5/10/2007 - BostonNOW

Harvard Students On Hunger Strike - 5/9/2007 - NECN TV

Harvard Students Going Hungry For Security Guards - 5/9/2007 - WBZ TV

Harvard Students Hold Hunger Strike - 5/9/2007 - The Boston Channel (ABC 5)

Starving for Social Justice - 5/9/2007 - Campus Progress

With an endowment of $29.2B, $15 an hour is more than reasonable - 5/9/2007 - Pandagon

The Labor-Economics Thought of Professor N. Gregory Mankiw - 5/9/2007 - MaxSpeak, You Listen!

Hunger-striking Harvard soph hospitalized - 5/9/2007 - Boston Herald

Harvard student hospitalized during hunger strike - 5/8/2007 - Boston Globe

Hunger striker hospitalized - Negotiations still in proces - 5/8/2007 - BostonNOW

DemocracyNow! headlines for May 8, 2007 - 5/8/2007 -

Fifth Day of Hunger Strike: Harvard President’s Administration Vacates the Premises - 5/7/2007 -

Harvard Jews Kick Ass - 5/7/2007 -

Central High grad among Harvard hunger strikers - 5/5/2007 -

Hungerstreik in Harvard - 5/4/2007 - Spiegel Online (in German). [English translation]

Harvard Hunger Strike for Workers Rights - 5/4/2007 - BostonIndymedia

Harvard Students Rally for Campus Security Officers - 5/2/2007 - Photo gallery by Jonathan McIntosh

Harvard guards rally against low worker wages - 5/2/2007 - BostonNOW

Harvard group to fast in support of security guards - 4/26/2007 - Boston Herald

Harvard Crimson

Mass. Hall VPs To Meet with Protesters - 5/10/2007

University to meet with SLAM - 5/9/2007

Hungry for a Cause - 5/9/2007

Labor Protests Gain Momentum as University Pledges Audit - 5/8/2007

Veritas et Securitas - 5/7/2007 (editorial)

DISSENT: Striking a Blow Against Injustice - 5/7/2007 (editorial)

Harvard Will Not Intervene - 5/7/2007 (Op-Ed)

Students Launch Fast for Guards - 5/4/2007

Student's Fast for Guards - 4/27/2007

SLAM's Stand For Security (Op-Ed) - 4/23/2007

Students Rally for Workers - 4/5/2007

Guarding the Guards - 1/9/2007

For Guards, Union in Sight - 11/16/2006

At Rally, Security Guards Call for Unionization - 12/6/2006

Former Rep. Urges Guards to Organize - 10/26/2006

Harvard's Invisible Victims - 10/25/2006

Allied Security Guards Push for Unionization - 3/17/2006

Workers Demand Union, Better Contract - 9/30/2005

Contact Us


Mailing Address:

Student Labor Action Movement
Phillips Brooks House
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Directly Contact Students:

Matt Bosch
mbosch at

Austin Guest
aguest at

Jessica Ranucci
jranucci at

Rosa Norton
rnorton at


The Issues

Fair Wages and Real Parity

In 2002, students and workers pushed Harvard to adopt its Wage and Benefits Parity Policy, which mandates that non-union, outsourced workers receive equitable pay and benefits to the unionized, in-house workers who do the same or similar work. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that outsourcing is not used to lower wages. Unfortunately, Allied and Harvard claim that security officers are most like museum guards and parking attendants hired after July 2006, who inexplicably make $2/hr less than those hired before that date. By creating this obscure B Schedule, Harvard and Allied have been able to evade the Parity Policy. Now, they want to sneak this same income inequality into the new contract eventhough Security officers face a rising cost of living and the daily challenge of making ends meet. Their wages and benefits must be on par with those of Harvard’s janitors and dining hall workers, which they are not. Wages must also be on par with those of security officers at comparable area universities, like MIT and BU, which they are not.

Steady, Full-Time Work

Security officers need consistent pay, not just fair pay. They must be guaranteed full-time work schedules that ensure a steady income and a stable quality of life.

Fair Grievance Procedures

Most contracts stipulate that employees can only be fired for “just cause”, verified through a company-sponsored investigation with “due process”. AlliedBarton, however, wants to reserve something they call “management rights”, which would deny security officers their right to “just cause” and “due process” if anyone associated with Harvard – administrators, professors, students, etc. – brings a complaint against them. They could be immediately fired and AlliedBarton would have no responsibility to investigate the allegations or to prove misconduct. In addition, Security officers must be able to file complaints against both direct (AlliedBarton) and indirect (Harvard) employers.


Under federal labor law, managers are not allowed to have union membership. Of about 250 guards, AlliedBarton is claiming that 32 are managers and are, therefore, ineligible for union membership. However, the definition of a manager is someone who can independently hire, fire, and discipline co-workers. None of the so-called “managers” AlliedBarton has identified has that authority. And, in other cities where AlliedBarton has negotiated union contracts, these supervisors have been included in the bargaining unit.

Who We Are

We are a coalition initiated by the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), a group on campus that focuses on worker's rights both on-campus and around the world.

The coalition was formed in order to establish a more broad support network for security officers. Although this campaign is one based on worker's rights, it is also a campaign simply to support fellow members of the Harvard community as they strive for social justice.

As students, the security officers we see everyday are just as much a part of our lives as our professors or deans. We support our security officers, and all Harvard workers, in their efforts to improve their workplaces and will not sit idley as Harvard refuses to comply with these very basic demands.

Coalition Members

Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW)
Black Mens Forum (BMF)
Black Students Association (BSA)
Fuerza Latina
Graduate Student Council (GSC)
Harvard AIDS Coaltion
Harvard College Coalition for Ugandan Peace (HCCUP)
Harvard College Democrats
Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA)
Harvard Darfur Action Group (HDAG)
Harvard Graduate Student Labor Council
Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice (HIPJ)
Harvard Progressive Advocacy Group (HPAG)
Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA
Harvard Students for Choice
Latinas Unidas
Latino Men's Collective
Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA)
Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS)
South Asian Women's Collective (SAWC)
Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM)
Students Taking On Poverty (STOP)
Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left
Undergraduate Council (UC)

Easy Ways You Can Help

Let us know how you want to help.

  • Sign the petition.
  • Get your friends (undergrads, grads, alumni, even people who don't go here) to sign the petition.
  • Get your TFs, professors and parents to sign the petition.
  • Join the Facebook group, "Stand for Security!"
  • Invite your friends to join the Facebook group.
  • Change your Facebook profile picture to one of the ones offered by the Facebook group (it's a small sacrifice to make for justice, no?)
  • Put a poster in your window (email us and we can drop one off for you)
  • Wear a "Stand for Security" button at ALL times.
  • Get your group to endorse the campaign. You can download our letter to student organizations and find out more on the "Resources" page. Remember, your group doesn't have to be dedicated to social justice to care about security officers; this is everyone's issue.
  • Pledge a certain amount of hours (even one!) to the campaign. Sign up here--it could be door-dropping, door-knocking, or something really fun like a rally or dance-in!
  • Come to a meeting: Sundays at 7pm or Thursdays at 6pm in Phillips Brooks House in the Yard. All are welcome.
  • Send an email to:

    Interim President Derek Bok:
    Director of Labor Relations Bill Murphy:
    Use this sample text to help you get started.

  • Make phone calls to Bok, Murphy, Hausamann and AlliedBarton! Instructions here.

Campaign History

Summer 2006

Early in the summer, students from the Student Labor Action Movement meet with Vice-President of Labor Relations Marilyn Hausammann and General Counsel Robert Iuliano. One of the topics of discussion is the efforts to unionize of Harvard's security officers and the need the students we perceive for Harvard to take a stance in favor of card check.

Days later,, appears online. Among the frequently asked questions listed by the site are two addressing card check.

Later in the summer, SLAM members meet with Harvard Director of Labor Relations Bill Murphy to discuss a possible Campus Labor Code of Conduct, which would include provisions for card check. They present Mr. Murphy with a strong argument in favor of card check, including a bill called the Employee Free Choice Act, supported by all but four Democratic congressmen, which is making its way through the House and would guarantee all workers the right to card check. Mr. Murphy maintains that Harvard believed in NLRB elections and that they cannot interfere in the decisions of their vendors, in this case, AlliedBarton.

Fall 2006

When classes began, students begin actively campaigning in favor of card check. SLAM decides to run a student card check drive, seeking to raise awareness about card check by replicating it on our campus. Hundreds of students sign cards in support of the officers' call for a fair unionization process.

In October, three SLAM members publish an op-ed in The Crimson connecting recent student outrage over the firing of a shuttle driver to the larger struggle for workers' rights and recognition at Harvard.

On the same day, security officers speak out at a community forum about their working conditions and their struggle to win union representation. They receive encouragement from Clara Vargas, who speaks about her experiences as a UNICCO janitor at the University of Miami , where it took a 17-day hunger strike to win card check. David Bonior, former House minority whip and current chair of American Rights at Work, speaks about card check and the larger social and economic context of the officers' fight.

The Stand for Security Coalition is formed, including SLAM, the Black Men's Forum, the College Democrats, Harvard Advocates for Human Rights and the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice.

In November, over a hundred officers, students and community members rally for card check, and march from Holyoke Center to Memorial Hall.

When students meet again with Bill Murphy, he stresses that if--as students contend--AlliedBarton has agreed to card check in five other cities, then Harvard may not be as opposed to it as they had initially expressed. The FAQs about card check disappear from the Service Employees @ Harvard website.

On November 16, The Crimson runs a story confirming that AlliedBarton has signed a card check agreement with SEIU 615. The Harvard administration still refuses to take responsibility for the treatment of security officers on our campus and admits no hand in the decision for card check.

Officers and union organizers begin collecting cards. Within a week, half of the workforce has signed up. By the end of December, officers are officially SEIU members.

In January, The Crimson Staff publishes an editorial praising the officers' victory.

Rally for Justice a Success!

On April 4, officers, students, other Harvard workers and community members braved freezing rain and snow to show their commitment to justice. Marching on the same day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed while supporting a sanitation workers' strike, we were all acutely aware of how our actions were continuing his struggle. King correctly recognized that there could be no racial justice without labor justice, and vice versa, because black people are largely working people. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the security workforce across the country, which is largely black. That the last non-union and the lowest-paid workforce on this campus is made up largely of blacks and/or immigrants of color was not lost on us on that day.

new endorsements!

Tonight the Undergraduate Council (UC) and South Asian Women's Collective (SAWC) signed onto the campaign! YAY!

we are growing...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Welcome to the Stand For Security blog!

Newly unionized Harvard security officers are in the process of bargaining their first contract. Harvard Stand for Security is a coalition dedicated to supporting officers in their contract negotiations. We believe that at the most prestigious and wealthy university in the world, it is shameful that workers are still lacking just wages, fair grieveance procedures, and a safe and respectful work environment.

Harvard security officers work tirelessly to protect and serve our campus. If you believe that hardworking, full-time employees should be able to support their families, if you believe that everyone deserves dignity and respect at work, if you believe that secure employment should not be the luxury of the wealthy, then please join us in this campaign.

We cannot lose this one, and we cannot win it without you.

We hope to use this blog to provide quick updates about the campaign and the hunger strike. Please, check back often to monitor our progress. Thanks!

-Harvard Stand For Security Coalition

To learn more about the campaign please visit:

the harvard stand for security coalition is:
*The Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW), Black Mens Forum (BMF), Black Students Association (BSA), Fuerza Latina, Harvard AIDS Coaltion, Harvard College Democrats, Harvard Graduate Student Labor Council, Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice (HIPJ), Harvard Progressive Advocacy Group (HPAG), Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, Harvard Students for Choice, Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS), Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), Students Taking On Poverty (STOP)*

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Report Back from Our 1-day Fast

On Thursday April 26, 2007, 83 students and staff fasted for 24 hours in support of security guards' struggle for fair wages and working conditions at Harvard. Around lunchtime, about 50 of the fasters and their supporters congregated outside the President's Office in Massachussetts Hall in Harvard Yard. We stood with empty plates while representatives from the Student Labor Action Movement, the Harvard Dems, Students Taking on Poverty, the Association of Black Harvard Women, the Black Men's Forum and the Black Students Association delivered a second letter that explained the fast and reiterated the demands of the coalition. When the group representatives were denied a meeting with President Bok, students sat down outside of Mass. Hall to offer him an opportunity to come outside and address the entire assembly.

Meanwhile, Najeeb Hussein, a security guard at the Law School, came to offer encouraging words of solidarity from his fellow guards. He also thanked the students for their support and presented the fasters with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, which was distributed amongst the students. Before the sit-in dispersed, each student left his or her empty plate and flower in front of Mass. Hall as a reminder to President Bok of their commitment to this issue and an assertion that security guards will not be ignored.

The fasters gathered at midnight to share a meal and plan for the longer fasts and larger actions to come.

again a huge thanks to all of our fasters!

Alyssa Aguilera, Amanda Shapiro, Amy Ng, Anh-Khoa Tran, Ariel Fox, Audrey White, Austin Guest, Benjamin Faber, Benjamin Landau-Beispiel, Brian Coyne, Brigit Helgen, C. Ché Salazar, Chiazotam Ekekezie, Chimaobi Amutah, Christian Garland, Christian Starling, Christopher Rucker, Claire Provost, Connie Chen, Daniela Joffe, David Chiles, Edith Chan, Elizabeth M. Doherty, Ellen Quigley, Ellora Derenoncourt, Emiliano Bourgois-Chacon, Erika Helgen, Eva Lam, Gabriela Pena, Gayatri Datar, Genevieve Butler, Geoff Carens, Harlan, Ingrid Maurice, Jacki Chou, Jacqueline Hairston, Jamila Martin, Javier Castro, Jenna Marie Mellor, Jenny Fauci, Jessica Luna, Jessica Ranucci, Jill Stockwell, Joanna Naples-Mitchell, Jocelyn Eastman, Joe Tartakoff, Jordan Ford, Jose Olivarez, Julie Shapiro, Katharine Loncke, Kaveri Rajaraman, Kaya Williams, Kelly Lee, Kyle A. Krahel, Lucy Mackinnon, Luke Messac, Marianne Eagan, Mary Thomas, Matt Basilico, Matthew Opitz, Maura Roosevelt, Max Drummey, Megan Shutzer, Michael Gould Wartofsky, Nathalie Galindo, Nworah Ayogu, Ohnmar Khin, Olivia Shabb, Pawanpreet K. Dhaliwal, Pia Dandiya, Rebecca Myerson, Riva Nathans, Sanjay Pinto, Sarah Godfrey, Sarah Ruberman, Senait Tesfai, Shanai Watson, Sharifah Holder, Shayak Sarkar, Shirley Lemus Hufstedler, Tatiana Chaterji, and Tess Ponce!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Worker Testimonials

Safdar Ali

For more than five years, I have protected the greater Harvard University community as an AlliedBarton security officer. The most fulfilling part is the relationship I have with the students and watching them grow into the world’s future leaders.
At first, I felt pride and excitement about working at one of the most prominent and prestigious universities in the world, but now that my family is barely surviving on near-poverty wages, my feelings have changed.

After working 80 hours a week to afford an apartment in Billerica, I made the difficult decision to move my wife and three children to a Cambridge public housing complex. It is hard for me, a proud man, to live in public housing, but at least I have more time to spend with my family because the rent is subsidized.

I am actively involved in the union with my fellow officers at Harvard because I want to have an active voice in creating a better life for my family.

Najeeb Hussain

I protect the grounds surrounding the school of law at Harvard University. I take great pride in my work and appreciate my responsibilities, but I am forced to endure undesirable working conditions imposed by AlliedBarton Security Services, my employer.

Because I am forced to provide for my wife and five children on low wages, I must often work 65 or more hours per week and I still get a paycheck of less than $1,800 monthly. I can neither afford a decent apartment for my family, nor can I live in Cambridge public housing because my income is too high. I have to make tough decisions to take care of my family—even if it means jeopardizing my children’s education and future.

Because AlliedBarton and Harvard University are standing in the way of me and my fellow officers’ efforts to improve our jobs with the Service Employees International Union, I am now preparing to tell my eldest daughter that she cannot return to Rutgers University after her freshman year.

With so much at stake, I am hopeful AlliedBarton Security Services and Harvard will respect the civil rights of its employees.

Milton Scope

As a security officer at Harvard University, I enjoy interacting with students, many of whom have taken an interest in my family life. Our conversations make me feel valued and respected, but my relationship with my employer, AlliedBarton,is very different.

I am frustrated because of poor working conditions which make protecting the campus and supporting my family a challenge. On one occasion, I was reprimanded for stepping too far out of the view of my supervisor, who watches me via closed-circuit television. Since I explained to him that I needed to walk around because of circulation problems, he now allows me to take two steps forward and backward—but no more.

There are other instances where I have felt humiliated at work; and I believe it has gotten worse because I am trying to form a union with my fellow officers. I am fearful that without a union, my fellow officers and I will never have a process available to us in case AlliedBarton decides to terminate our employment for any reason—including stepping too far out of the box.

For five years, I have worked as an AlliedBarton security officer at Harvard University. I am deeply fond of the students at the university who make me feel like a member of the community.

Yet, working at Harvard is a struggle for me because of low wages that have taken a challenging toll on my life. Trying to make ends meet contributed to my marriage falling apart, because I often work 30 or more hours of overtime each week and have little time to spend with my family.

Because I can barely afford the bare necessities, I shop at thrift stores or get old clothing from family members, who also provide me with food when I cannot afford to go grocery shopping.

My mother recently underwent surgery for breast cancer and I have been unable to send her money while she is in recovery. Meanwhile, my 3-year-old son’s needs grow more every day.
The best chance my fellow officers and I have at making our jobs better is by joining together to form a union, like other workers at Harvard have in the past. Only then do he I think we will be paid the wages we need to support our families.