In a city as wealthy as Cambridge, economic justice should be a given. However, in the face of the ongoing recession and the structural deficiencies which bar opportunity to so many, that ideal is sadly divorced from reality. The causes of this injustice are many, and there is no one solution that can address them. But this does not absolve us of our responsibility to work for justice nor of our duty to join with our neighbors when they are in need.
Right now in Harvard Square, there is an opportunity to take a stand for fairness. There, workers at the DoubleTree Hilton are protesting simply for the right to a fair process (the right to decide whether to organize as a union without pressure from management). Last March, a supermajority of the DoubleTree hotel workers petitioned their General Manager and Harvard University, but they were ignored. After this long wait, the workers (some of whom have worked at this hotel tirelessly and under unsafe conditions, for decades) have taken to protest to secure their rights and asked the community to help them.
On Thursday, I joined with workers at the DoubleTree Hilton to speak out against this injustice. What I saw there inspired me. I was only one of four City Councillors to attend—my colleagues Dennis Benzan, Marc McGovern and Leland Cheung also added their voices to the call for fairness. We marched together with students of Harvard University who joined in solidarity with other Harvard workers to show that they would not accept injustice in their community.
This alliance of workers, students and local-level leaders has historically been a potent agent of social change, and it has the opportunity to be so again here in Cambridge. I am hopeful that the workers at the DoubleTree Hilton will be heard and that their reasonable demands are met. But even more so I am hopeful that their success will be a model for social justice in action here in Cambridge moving forward.
The wealth of knowledge, resources, and intention in our city does not ensure the wellbeing of all of its people—but it does place a responsibility on all of us to band together to make that justice a reality.