archives of global protests

04/21/2001: 300 People Demonstrate at Boston (U.S.) Solidarity Rally
Jason Pramas 2001-04-21

Source: Indymedia Québec

Approximately 300 protestors assembled outside Massachusetts Hall on Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA, Saturday, 4/21, at 1 p.m., doing double duty demonstrating solidarity with the FTAA protestors mucking it up in Quebec City, and supporting over 40 Harvard Students who have occupied campus administrators' offices since Wednesday, 4/18 to demand a living wage of $10.25/hour for all workers at Harvard University--including hundreds of subcontracted and outsourced workers.

The attendees included a fair number of Harvard students, a generous sprinkling of local trade unionists, and a good cross section of the remaining committed local activists who did not split town this weekend for Quebec, the Labor Notes conference in Detroit, the NOW march in DC, or the AFL-CIO Working for America conference in California.

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich--who happened to be on campus today at a lunchtime event for the College Democrats--was a surprise speaker. Reich managed to drop his normal line that "education and training" are all that U.S. working families need to survive in the dog-eat-dog global economy and managed to feign fairly convincing support for a living wage at Harvard. His presence did have the effect of increasing previously sparse media coverage of the Harvard sit-in for the moment, and was probably responsible for the local media doing a better job of linking the local protest to the Quebec actions than they would have done otherwise.

Harvard officials continue to refuse to negotiate with the student activists of Harvard's Progressive Student Labor Movement--claiming that a non-profit educational institution with a $19 billion endowment can't possibly consider paying low wage immigrant campus workers more money, but will be happy to offer them free English classes.

Ed Childs, an Harvard worker and activist with the Hotel and Restarant Workers Union local on campus, responded in his opening remarks at the event that the union offered immigrant workers its own English classes, and that the workers didn't need English classes where all they were going to learn was to say "Yes, boss."

A variety of speakers from as far away as South America put the local fight in a global context, and sent solidarity greetings to fellow protestors in Quebec and around the world.

This protest also marked the unofficial kickoff the Northeast Global Alternatives 2001 series of events happening until May 1st in Boston. The series is aimed at presenting local activism of all sorts in a global context, and laying groundwork for creating an alternative to the Northeastern U.S. and Canada's current corporate-dominated economic and political structure. The official kickoff will happen Monday with a big report-back from Quebec by returned (and hopefully hale) Boston activists. Activists and interested people from around the region are invited to participate.

Check out these important links for more info:

Harvard Living Wage sit-in

Northeast Global Alternatives 2001 schedule/info

A20 global
A20 Québec