Sunday, December 21, 2008

SLAM Delivers Anti-Layoffs Letter to President Faust

On Monday, December 15th, SLAM members delivered the following letter in opposition to potential layoffs to President Faust's office in Massachusetts Hall.

December 15, 2008

President Drew Faust
Massachusetts Hall
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear President Faust,

We are writing to express our concern about the effects of the recent endowment losses on Harvard’s workers. Considering your email sent on November 10th, we acknowledge the gravity of Harvard’s financial situation. In your email you note that, “many students and families are facing an economic strain.” It is important in these difficult times to remember the families of Harvard’s workers, who must also face the challenges of the current economic crisis. As Harvard is the fourth largest employer in the state of Massachusetts, it has a responsibility to many of these families who are a large part of our community. During this holiday season, it would be tragic to see any of these Harvard community members suffer job loss, reduction in wages, reduction in hours, or loss of benefits.

We as students are willing to accept changes. Other members of the student body have expressed a willingness to do so as well. For example, the Harvard Crimson wrote an editorial on Wednesday, December 3rd, saying, “[Harvard’s] staff depends on the university far more than we do. Their ability to work here, just like our ability to study here, deserves to be preserved… Directly or indirectly, the budget crunch will harm student life, but it shouldn’t ruin a staffer’s in the process.” The economic crisis is not the Harvard workers’ fault, and just as they do not necessarily benefit from increases in Harvard’s endowment, they should not be penalized by its losses.

Although no explicit statements have been made suggesting layoffs at Harvard, we have heard reports from some employees that hours have been cut. Also, the fear of layoffs leads to a sense of insecurity within the workplaces. Similarly, freezes in hiring can lead to increased stress as current workers leave and are not replaced, as the workload is borne by fewer people. All of this contributes to a sense of instability within our community, of which the workers are a part.

Sincerely,

Student Labor Action Movement
Phillips Brooks House
Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138
slam@hcs.harvard.edu

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