Occupation: The Harvard Living Wage Sit-Ins

In the last decades, colleges around the country have faced student protests over the wages paid maintenance employees. Harvard, the richest university in the world, is no exception. While its endowments have tripled in the last fifteen years, it has outsourced jobs, slashed wages and benefits for its lowest paid workers, and resisted efforts to unionize..

Appalled at Harvard's practices, the students galvanized into action. They proposed a Living Wage Programme, which Harvard refused to consider. After three years of peaceful protests the students occupied Masachusetts Hall, site of the President's office. Soon a "tent city" sprang up on campus as other students joined the campaign. Gradually the workers joined the protest, no longer afraid to lose their jobs.

With the threat of wildcat strikes and civil disobedience growing, the administration was forced to negotiate. The President accepted unprecedented wage increases and established a committee to review labor policies. Consuelo, a janitor, says "Those kids are unbelievable. They are my inspiration, my heroes."

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"The melding of real time coverage, archival footage, takeouts from local and national television, supporting commentary from scholars in labor relations and textual statements of workers employed at Harvard allow a lively flow of information that conveys the story and the message. Recommended for courses in social justice and sociology as well as labor relations. " Veronica Maher Roger Williams University EMRO

Occupation: The Harvard Living Wage Sit-Ins


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