Friday, May 11, 2007

The Hunger Strike ends; Next phase of campaign begins

We ended our strike primarily because the workers were very concerned about our health and wanted us to end, but before we ended we got some concessions from today morning's talks with Harvard admin. More importantly, the workers told us that our pressure broke a 26 day impasse in negotiations, and that Allied-Barton agreed to more dates of negotiation and also finally came through with a wage proposal.

Here are the concessions from today's talks, summarized.

1. A letter signed by Marilyn Hausammann, reaffirming the university's commitment to those of our demands that were in line with the Katz Committee's recommendations, pertaining to subcontractors, including
a: Wages and benefits: - not using outsourcing to lower wages and weaken unions.
- employment an contacting practices should reflect humane concern for all employees whether directly employed or not
- being a good employer is defined as providing wages benefits and other conditions of employment neccessary to attract, retain and motivate employees, and compensation levels that contribute to ensuring that workers and their families enjoy at least a minimally decent standard of living
b: Due grievance process and fair treatment
- Workers should be treated with dignity and respect by supervisors, fellow workers and other members of the Harvard community.
- No employees at Harvard should be subject to intimidation, retaliation, or abuse by supervisors or others in authority positions relative to them.

2. In the letter is also a provision regarding an audit of Allied Barton's compliance or non compliance with the Wages and Benefits Parity Policy. At our last meeting we won an expedited audit that will be complete by early next week (we were told Monday or Tuesday though this date is not on the letter; instead they state "the week of May 14").

In this letter coming out of this meeting, they promise to
- make the audit results public
- arrange a meeting with reps from SLAM and other members of the community (they agreed to worker and faculty representation at the meeting) as soon as possible after the audit
- more than one meeting to discuss these issues.

We stated at the meeting that we expect to deal with the specific ways in
which Allied-Barton is non-compliant with the Wages and Benefits Parity
Policy, but also with the ways in which Harvard has implemented the WBPP.

Onward into the next phase of struggle! This struggle is working, but what
we have done so far means nothing if we fizzle out and don't keep up the
pressure until the point in time when it will be most effective ie: when the
negotiations between Allied-Barton and the union come through. If the guards
end up with a bad contract, what we have so far counts for nothing. Its
value is only as groundwork moving towards a better contract.