A sit-in has begun to encourage the University to pay its workers a living wage. All information is below.
Please note: There are 17 students peacefully sitting inside Madison Hall.
They have four days worth of food. They have been threatened with arrest
and expulsion if they do not leave by 5:30 pm.
IN ADDITION TO THE RALLY FOR LIVING WAGE with Julian Bond (at 1 PM ON THE
STREET SIDE OF THE ROTUNDA), THERE WILL BE A GATHERING OUTSIDE OF MADISON
HALL AT 5 PM WITH PRAYER AND MUSIC TO SHOW SUPPORT. PLEASE COME.
email President Casteen at casteen@Virginia.EDU and cc' Patricia Lampkin at
lampkin@Virginia.EDU in support of the sit-in and of the Living Wage
Visit www.uvalivingwage.net for information (including blogging from
outside Madison Hall)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WHY WE ARE SITTING IN
By the time you read this, members of the Living Wage Campaign at the
University of Virginia will have begun a sit-in in Madison Hall, where
University President John T. Casteen III's office is located. Those students
plan to sit in until the University accepts its moral responsibility and
commits to paying a real living wage.
President Casteen has the authority to ensure that all University employees,
direct and contracted, are paid a living wage. Despite our extensive
research and our repeated attempts at honest, substantive dialogue, the
administration has failed to provide appropriate compensation for the entire
workforce or even express a commitment to doing so.
Hundreds of University workers, overwhelmingly women and people of color,
are currently paid less than a living wage. Many housekeepers, dining hall
workers, and other employees work a second full-time job after putting in a
full day's work at UVa. It is morally reprehensible to pay poverty wages to
the very employees who keep our University safe, beautiful, and functioning,
when we have the resources to compensate them with dignity. As thousands of
students, workers, faculty members, unions, alumni/ae, and community members
have agreed, no one should face these circumstances, and we cannot permit
them in our community.
The Living Wage Campaign has worked since 1998 to ensure that all University
employees can afford to live and raise their families in the Charlottesville
community. After years of meetings and coalition-building, we believe that
escalation is justified in order to force the administration to confront its
responsibility for the poverty in our community.
Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that "in any nonviolent campaign there are four
basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist;
negotiation; self-purification; and direct action." We believe that those
steps have been taken at UVa by the Living Wage Campaign, our predecessors,
and our allies.
Collection of Facts
Our recent report, "Keeping Our Promises," presented to President Casteen
and the University community, details the facts surrounding the issue of a
living wage. In it we noted Charlottesville's 25% poverty rate and addressed
the leadership role the University must take, as the region's largest
employer, in combating that problem. The University maintains that all
University employees are given opportunities to advance beyond entry-level
positions, but we contend that no one should be expected to wait for
promotion so that they can live in the community in which they work. We
maintain that no one working full time should be forced to live in poverty.
So long as any University employee earns a poverty wage we affirm that
We've met with administrators and members of the Board of Visitors. The
Board has told us that they defer to the administration, and the
administration has said to talk to the Board. Both have blinded themselves
to solutions to the problem, preferring to hide behind legal excuses. Both
have avoided taking responsibility for the poverty of some of the
University's most vulnerable employees. Although President Casteen has
expressed his commitment to low-wage workers in the abstract, he has not
taken concrete steps toward ensuring that no University employee earns
poverty wages in the 2919 days since he was first publicly asked to do so.
The most recent resolution in favor of a living wage has garnered signatures
from over 1200 students, faculty, community members, clergy, University
employees, alumni, and parents. Notable signatories include Julian Bond,
Delegate David Toscano, and Charlottesville's mayor, David Brown.