New England Jewish Labor Committee organizes interfaith rally at Harvard

At a rally in Harvard Yard today, rabbis and interfaith clergy members called on Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow to meet student workers’ demand for a contract with fair pay, quality healthcare that covers dental and mental health, and protections from harassment and discrimination. Following the rally, rabbis affiliated with the New England Jewish Labor Committee (NEJLC) personally delivered a letter to President Bacow signed by more than sixty rabbis from across New England, and an interfaith group of Harvard Chaplains delivered a letter in support of student workers’ fight for a fair contract.

“All human beings deserve dignity and respect at work, and that includes student workers. The Jewish tradition affirms the obligation of employers to provide a living wage to workers and to protect them from exploitation and neglect. It is in that spirit, as well as out of my concern as a Harvard-Radcliffe alum, that I call on President Bacow to heed student workers’ very reasonable and just demands on pay, healthcare, and protections from harassment and discrimination,” said Rabbi Toba Spitzer, of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West Newton, and immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.

The letter the New England Jewish Labor Committee delivered to President Bacow provides a full endorsement of the contract proposals student workers are demanding in a contract. The NEJLC letter concludes, “As a preeminent institution of higher learning, it is unbecoming of Harvard University to undervalue those who support students in the classrooms, libraries, and research labs every day. We urge you to live up to the high standards for which you are known, and negotiate a fair contract immediately.”

If you are interested in getting involved with the Harvard grad student workers strike, email Emma Rose at emma@jewishlabor.org!

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