For years, many students, staff and faculty have been fighting for the University of Virginia’s lowest-paid employees to be paid a living wage, but little progress has been made. I feel there is no reason UVa should deny their workers a living wage.
With many people in the world working two or three jobs and still struggling to bring home food for their children, I can’t help but support the Living Wage Campaign. When people are suffering, it is only human to find a way to help them.
UVa’s main argument is that it doesn’t have enough room in its budget to pay a minimum wage of at least $13 per hour (before benefits) to its employees. UVa has a budget of more than a billion dollars. It is ridiculous to say the university cannot find a way to pay the living wage. One UVa math major calculated that it would take one-tenth of 1 percent of the budget to pay all of the university’s underpaid employees a living wage. Much of UVa’s budget gets used on things that most people would consider less important than paying a living wage. Just one example is the several hundred thousand dollars set aside every year for flowers.
It is simple. If enough people are aware and concerned about this situation and enough pressure is put on UVa, the university will break and put the living wage into action. Many other universities across the United States now pay a living wage, but only after protest. Once a large number of people are educated on this issue, it will become clear that there is no legitimate reason for UVa not to pay these workers what they deserve.
UVa could not function without these underpaid employees, and many of them are afraid to speak out because their jobs are insecure. Most of what people see when they walk onto campus is done by these low-paid employees, yet most of us don’t even know they exist. The very least people can do to get involved is acknowledge these underpaid employees who make a positive contribution to daily life at the university. Ask how their day has been and have a conversation with them so they know they are appreciated. Let’s make our voices heard on this important issue.