To our sisters and brothers of COSATU,
Our sisters and brothers of the Harvard dining hall workers of the UNITE HERE union Local 26 voted enthusiastically to send a solidarity message to you.
We greet you with solidarity.
For 40 years we have supported each other. During the appalling South African apartheid government, our members were arrested many times in the battles to stop Harvard University from supporting your enslavement by the apartheid government.
Some of the same corporations we are fighting today — Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup Bank — profited greatly from your slavelike work conditions. These corporations lead the Harvard Corporation, which controls all major decisions at Harvard.
During apartheid, our dining hall workers refused to serve banquets for the South African apartheid government put on by the Harvard administration.
To force the Harvard administration to stop their support for apartheid, we had a coalition with the Black students and others. This coalition put on a rally of over 5,000 workers and students to demand Harvard divest from enslaving you, and at this rally we had COSATU leaders speak. COSATU’s words inspired us, because you used that time to support our struggle and the strike that we were about to have.
Our solidarity back then led us to have successful struggles. Today, we face the same opponents as then, from the Harvard Corporation to Johannesburg. Again it is the “less-than-1%” exploiting the “over-99%.”
Our issues we are fighting for today — health care, retirement and layoffs — are similar to those of all workers of the world. Today, we are both on strike to stop this cruelty to workers.
Again: Solidarity. A better world is in birth.
The Harvard University Dining Hall Workers Strike Committee, UNITE HERE Local 26
Ed Childs, Chief Steward