Thursday April 21st, members and supporters of the Living Wage Coalition (LWC) gathered to discuss the impact of the April 20th sit-in as well as generate support and formulate solutions.
According to the LWC, the fight for adequate wages began in 1997, when wages for many college employees were averaging 6 dollars per hour. The campaign was successful in increasing them to 9 dollars per hour, and hopes to have a similar outcome in response to recent events.
The LWC cited a general apathy by the administration in regards to viewing the lack of adequate wages as a significant issue.
Professor Cindy Hahamovitch compared the manner in which the College treats its workers to slavery.
“[This college] is proud of its traditions… but there’s a tradition of taking advantage of the African American community. The college owned slaves,” said Hahamovitch.
The LWC asserts that today conditions are not much different. Service employees in this region are devoid of options other than to work for the College, since it is the only employer that offers basic benefits.
“This is one of the few places service employees can get benefits,” continued Hahamovitch. “They are bound to this job by lack of options elsewhere.”
The Coalition addressed allegations that it did not have a plan of action with which to acquire the money necessary to raise the worker’s wages. One course of action suggested by the LWC is to encourage President Reveley to ask donors to give money specifically for higher wages for service employees. Another option that the Coalition proposed was to take 1% of private donations intended to aid the construction for specific buildings and redirect it to worker’s wages.
According to the LWC, the real problem is not that the College doesn’t have the money but rather that the university won’t even try to solve the problem. This was the impetus for the sit-in that occurred in the Brafferton on Wednesday April 20th. The LWC hopes that as a result of the events that have taken place in the past week that both the administration and student body will become more involved in the fight for living wages.