News & Commentary

November 12, 2021

Hannah Finnie

Hannah Finnie is a student at Harvard Law School and a member of the Labor and Employment Lab.

Staff at Wirecutter, a product review site owned by the New York Times, say they will go on strike over Black Friday if they don’t reach an agreement with Times management beforehand. They’ve been bargaining with management for two years for their first contract. On Thursday, the Wirecutter Union announced that not only had Times management failed to respond to the union’s most recent proposal, they also rejected the nine proposed bargaining sessions the union offered. Moving forward, the union is asking that if it is unable to reach an agreement with management before Black Friday, readers support them by not shopping through Wirecutter from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

In other strike news, members of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Union voted overwhelmingly (96%) to authorize a strike on November 17. The union has asked people to support their efforts by picketing the museum, one of the largest art museums in Boston and in the country, on November 17. The vote authorizes the union to go on strike for one day.

Here at Harvard, HGSU-UAW, one of multiple unions on campus, said it will go on strike again next week. The union, which represents around 5,000 student workers, went on strike in late October after negotiations with Harvard management stalled. The union’s demands have remained consistent since then: real recourse for student survivors of sexual harassment and violence; making HGSU-UAW an agency shop (meaning everyone who benefits from the union will have to pay dues to support it); and raises that keep up with increases in the cost of living and are real raises. During the strike in October, the university emailed student workers who withheld their labor asking them to report it to the school, likely so that the school could withhold pay for that time. That decision drew ire from labor supporters, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who tweeted, alongside a screenshot of the email: “Dear Paul, I’m going to need you to give me a call about this.” Paul Curran is the director of Harvard’s Office of Labor and Employee Relations and sent the email to students about returning wages. The union says it hasn’t received a proposal from the university since October 21, over three weeks ago.

Finally, a new study using computational analysis to evaluate Republican economic speeches found that from the Jim Crow era until now, segregationist language and ideology has become more and more associated with Republican economic speeches. The study analyzes speeches from the Congressional Record, finding that Republican economic speeches have shedded overtly racist language but have continued to use abstract language used in the Jim Crow era to signal racial conservatism.

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