Group Rallies Against UVa Wages

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

February 21, 2006

Some University of Virginia students and faculty members are upset over how little some employees there are making. On Tuesday they rallied outside of the school hoping to catch the University's attention.

Some University of Virginia students and faculty members are upset over how little some employees there are making. On Tuesday they rallied outside of the school hoping to catch the University's attention.

The UVa students and employees came by the dozens, rallying outside the Rotunda building in support of the living wage campaign, a student organized effort pushing to have the University increase its minimum salary.

"This is all part of the effort to energize our supporters and show the administration that there is a lot of support for this and it has to be made a priority," said organizer Abby Bellows.

The group put together a five-month report documenting employee wages. According to the report and the Economic Policy Institute, Charlottesville's living wage for a family of four is $10.72 an hour. That includes only basic necessities.

"It is ultimately about whether all members of the university community are respected for their contributions to [fulfill] the university's educational mission," said UVa Professor Paul Gaston.

In December, University officials raised there minimum hire rate to $8.88 an hour. Spokesperson Carol Wood says they hire entry-level employees in hopes that they will move up quickly.

"The University not only is offering a good entry-level salary, but we offer a benefits package that I would say [is] probably unbeatable, not only in the area, but in the state," said Wood.

The group hopes that with the right momentum the area's biggest employer will officially adjust their minimum salary to $10.72 an hour, and adjust that each year according to inflation. They've given the University a deadline of March 13.

Students had planned to walk their report to President Casteen's office after the rally but were barred by police.

CORRECTION: A quote from Carol Wood was mis-transcribed in a previous version of this story. This version corrects that quote to read as stated by Ms. Wood. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.


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