Student groups launch Upper Crust boycott

BY JOEY SEILER

Through last semester, Upper Crust pizza boxes could frequently be found filling up recycling bins around the Harvard Law School campus after student lunches and events. In December, though, news broke that the Boston-based pizzeria was the source of rampant immigration and labor law violations. Now the Harvard Immigration Project (HIP) and the Law School’s Labor and Employment Action Project (LEAP) are launching a boycott among student organizations to prompt change.

“We saw the article in the Globe in December, but it was the middle of finals, so we decided our groups wouldn’t order pizza from them anymore,” Claire Valentin ‘11, President of HIP, said of her decision with Dave Casserly ‘11 and Paul Mower ‘11, respectively the past and current presidents of LEAP. “When we came back for the spring semester we thought it would be good to do something a little broader.”

Now almost 40 student organizations have signed on to an open letter to be delivered to Upper Crust in early March. Valentin says the organizers are holding off to allow for more recently contacted groups, including several from Harvard College, to add their names to the letter. More groups have agreed to support the boycott, but declined to add their names to the letter, said Valentin, because it wasn’t close enough to their missions to merit making a public statement.

Upper Crust has also come under investigation from various state and federal organizations. A previous Department of Labor led to an order last year that Upper Crust pay nearly $340,000 to over 100 employees for uncompensated overtime. Since then, workers have alleged that Upper Crust reduced their wages and demanded the workers give up the government-ordered checks or face firing. The Department of Labor has since opened a second investigation for wage law violations.

Still, said Valentin, if Upper Crust cleans up its act, the organizers would end the boycott and go back to ordering its pizzas.

“Our goal is not to put them out of business,” she said. “It’s to say we don’t support that sort of business practice. If we get confirmation that they have paid the back wages they’ve been ordered to pay and that they’re compliant with [employment and] labor laws, I think we’d contact all the groups and tell them that, but I think we’d need some concrete evidence.”

Valentin said the letter writers have also been in touch with local representatives of the Service Employees International Union and the Brazilian Women’s Group, both of whom have been supportive of the boycott and letter.

“Some groups have also asked us to translate it into Spanish or Portuguese, which we’re working on, so they can give the word out to the local community,” said Valentin. “We’d love to encourage groups to continue signing on. We’re still hoping to get a lot more.”

Act on a Dream, Harvard College

American Constitution Society

Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)

Board of Student Advisers

Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review

Drama Society

Food Law Society

Justice for Palestine

Harvard Black Law Students Association (BLSA)

Harvard Caribbean Law Association

Harvard Immigration Project (HIP)

Harvard Journal of Law and Gender

Harvard Latino Law Review

Harvard Law & Policy Review

Harvard Law School ACLU

Harvard Law School for Reproductive Justice

Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Harvard Medical School Chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

Harvard National Security Journal

Harvard Negotiators

HLS Advocates for Human Rights

HLS Chamber Music Society

HLS Lambda

HLS NAACP

Labor and Employment Action Project (LEAP)

Law and International Development Society (LIDS)

Legal Theory Forum

Middle East Law Students Association

Muslim Law Students Association

National Lawyer’s Guild, HLS Chapter

No One Leaves

Reaching Out Against Depression (ROAD)

Statler & Waldorf, LLP

Student Association for Law and Mind Sciences

Student Public Interest Network (SPIN)

Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP)

The Softball Club

Unbound

Women’s Law Association  

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