Nine of Harvard University’s striking dining hall workers were arrested Friday afternoon, along with two union officials, after holding a sit-in on the streets of Harvard Square.
The act of civil disobedience came on the 10th day of Harvard’s first strike in 33 years. The 750 workers and university officials are at odds over wages and health care costs.
The sit-in occurred after a worker rally that focused on health care costs for women workers and their families. The nine arrested workers were all female, according to union spokeswoman Tiffany Ten Eyck.
Brian Lang, president of UNITE HERE Local 26, and lead negotiator Michael Kramer were also arrested, Ten Eyck said.
Cambridge Police Deputy Superintendent Jack Albert said Friday’s demonstration was “pretty well-scripted,” and police had been notified in advance. He said the sit-in lasted about 15 minutes near the intersection of John F. Kennedy Street and Massachusetts Avenue. A traffic diversion was put in place ahead of the event, he said.
The act was meant as “a more dramatic action to get the attention of decision makers,” such as Harvard President Drew Faust, Ten Eyck said.
It marked the second straight day of more boisterous action from the union. On Thursday, the union sought the attention of the 12 fellows that sit on Harvard’s governing board by deploying national UNITE HERE representatives to the fellows’ offices in New York and other cities. The fellows have all either declined to comment or not responded to requests for interviews.
The union and university administrators have not met since Monday and contract negotiations are at a stalemate.
The workers are being charged with disorderly conduct, according to Albert. The union will pay their $40 bail, Ten Eyck said.