A Meeting of the Harvard Corporation, which invests Harvard’s endowment, guarded by police. © Gregory Halpern

As a resident alien, much of the American revelry is lost on me. But Labour Day? That’s a national holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. That’s something I can celebrate.

Today then, I point you in the direction of Gregory Halpern‘s neatly edged project Harvard Works Because We Do (it has a beginning, a middle and an end) about the service workers employed by Harvard University. From portraits to playful presentation (above) to messy colour film shots of a student sit-in to a successful outcome securing over $10 million in pay and benefits for the more than 1,000 service workers on campus.

Harvard Works Because We Do is a project full of character and a clear voice. Halpern was one of the sitting students. From his portfolio:

“Between 1994 and 2001, the endowment of Harvard University tripled, making the school the wealthiest non-profit in the world, second only to the Vatican. In the same years, Harvard heavily outsourced many service jobs to lower-paying companies, thus resulting in average wage cuts of 30% for the schools’ custodians, food-workers and security guards. In response, I got involved with a student group called the Harvard Living Wage Campaign and I began this project. My goal was to publicize the situation, to share the stories of a number of service-workers I had come to know, and to raise questions about the prevailing class-structure at Harvard and on college campuses in general.”