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Harvard, Boasting $40 Billion Endowment, Lays Off Dining Hall Workers Due to Coronavirus

Country’s richest university cuts costs as pandemic sweeps country

By Alana Goodman | MARCH 24, 2020

Harvard University, which has the largest endowment of any school in the country, is cutting its subcontracted dining hall workers without pay as it shuts down in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move is drawing criticism from employment rights advocates on and off campus who point to the university’s $40.9 billion endowment as evidence that the school is hardly in financial straits. They also claim the decision violates Harvard’s wage equality policy, which requires the university to compensate dining hall contract workers in a fashion comparable to the school’s directly hired employees.

Nathan Heller, a staff writer at the New Yorker, wrote on Twitter: “This is somewhat embarrassing. Harvard University could not be described as cash-strapped or market-vulnerable, and presumably payment of all its dining workers was budgeted for the year. It should pay them as budgeted.”

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