Dear Harvard College Students,
As Dean O’Dair anticipated in her note to you yesterday, Local 26 – the union that represents food service workers in Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) – has gone on strike. The College’s priority during this time is your health and well-being. With that in mind, we will continue to provide updates on HUDS’ plans for meeting our community’s dietary and nutritional needs during the strike.
Contract negotiations and labor actions are evolving situations, which can create feelings of uncertainty and confusion in a community. As you walk across campus today, and so long as these events continue, you may see picket lines or rallies. These are important exercises of free expression. The University is following well-established guidelines to ensure that these rights are respected, while protecting the ability of our campus to carry out its core activities.
Complex problems rarely have simple answers. I know there are differing views across our community about the contract negotiations and strike. This is to be expected, and at Harvard College, difference of opinion is welcomed. As part of its mission to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society, the College strongly encourages free expression. And, as always, we want to encourage dialogue that is respectful. In this community – made up of students, administrative staff, faculty, residential staff, and our dining hall workers, how we treat each other in challenging times matters deeply. Caring for each other as individuals is ingrained in the very essence of Harvard’s culture. Today’s events change none of this.
As I’ve walked across campus today I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve witnessed. I’ve seen some of you quietly eating breakfast, respectfully engaging with each other, and talking about your coursework. I’ve seen others join in picket lines and use your voices in support of the Local 26 workers. I’ve heard others hold impassioned conversations about the strike and its effects on campus. Each one of these scenes has underscored the very best about our community: that while we all approach issues differently, we do so in a way that is respectful of the rights and dignity of others.
I encourage each of you at this time to remember that even during a strike, both sides are in negotiation and advocating for their constituencies while seeking to find common ground. These negotiations are rarely simple – but we hope, of course, for a resolution.