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, www.serviceemployees.harvard.edu, 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.
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.