October 15, 2016

National SDS Salutes the Harvard Workers Strike!

National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) extends its utmost support to the Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) workers in their struggle for a fair contract and their decision to go on strike. As progressive and radical student organizers, we take inspiration from the bravery and determination of the HUDS workers. We know that the struggle to build universities that teach solidarity, and are founded upon racial and economic justice, is a struggle that unites students and workers across the country. We are committed to building power with the hardworking individuals that keep our universities running.

Harvard is emblematic of the ways in which corporate control of our universities directly hurts the working class people that make up our communities. When the administration of the world’s wealthiest university refuses to provide its workers with basic healthcare and a guaranteed minimum annual salary, it is bargaining on behalf of the financial elites that run the Harvard Corporation. When university administrators actively discourage students from supporting the 750 striking workers, they show their true colors.

Students have more in common with the university workers than we do with the administration, and our interests are directly at odds with those of the corporate elites that have controlled our places of learning for far too long. Who benefits from cuts to workers’ healthcare, cyclical layoffs, the contracting out of essential jobs, and the refusal to implement proactive measures to promote racial and gender equity in the workplace? The administration and the corporate elites that sit on Boards of Regents. These anti-worker policies don’t benefit students—that’s why nearly 3,000 Harvard students have already pledged support for the HUDS workers’ strike.

SDS has previously affirmed its solidarity with and support for campus workers, both in 2014 and in 2015. In a 2015 National SDS resolution, for example, we called on student organizers to “deepen their relationships with local unions, on campus and in their communities, and to adopt a working class outlook in all the other organizing they do.” The thousands of students who have declared their support for the strike, and the hundreds who have reinforced the workers’ picket lines with their bodies, are learning—through struggle—how to put their solidarity into practice. These students are working with Boston-area UNITE HERE Local 26 to produce genuine improvements in the material conditions of workers and their families.

National SDS is united with the HUDS workers, and we applaud their decision to revive the strike at Harvard! All power to the workers! May their victory be swift and absolute.