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Impeach John Casteen

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Presidents and Prime Ministers who most deserve to be ridden out of office on a rail: George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and John Casteen.

John Who?

John Casteen is the President of the University of Virginia. For years now, he's been sitting on over a billion dollars while paying employees poverty wages. This past weekend he had 17 students arrested and hauled off to jail for sitting in to protest this injustice and to demand a living wage for workers at the University.

Rather than applauding these students for their sacrifice on behalf of others, and rather than sitting down to negotiate with them, Casteen chose to call in the cops.

It was a move worthy of our nation's president, but what most brings Bush and Blair to mind when I think about the commander of Jefferson's sweat shop is the ridiculous string of lies he's put forth over the years to justify his refusal to pay a decent wage.

Sadly, there is no appropriate mechanism for investigating his lies and for impeaching and removing Casteen from office. But it might help if about a million people were to contact the "Board of Visitors" and ask them to send Casteen packing unless he establishes a living wage for both direct and contracted employees - and a living wage indexed to keep pace with the cost of living so that we don't have to come back to kicking Casteen's butt every year.


This has been going on for over nine years now, and Casteen has been stonewalling and foot-dragging the entire time. Wages have been inching upward as a result of pressure from students, professors, workers, and members of the Charlottesville community. But so has the cost of living.

During these years we've seen expansions to the law school and the business school, a new football stadium, a new basketball stadium, a new bookstore, a new parking garage, new tennis courts, new balconies on the Lawn, a remodeling of Newcomb Hall, the construction of an office park near the airport, a bail out of the QualChoice health plan, new satellite campuses, and huge raises in pay for professors. So, naturally, an underlying theme to all of Casteen's cruel claims has been "There's not enough money."

What else have we been told?

It's not under UVA's control; it's up to the state government in Richmond.

We can't put wage standards contracts with companies; they won't let us.

We must follow the market, which will decide correct pay levels for us.

Wage standards cause unemployment.

People only stay in low-wage jobs a short while before bettering themselves.

Raising wages means raising tuition.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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