Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)

Harvard students campaign for a living wage, 1998-2002

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

In the fall of 1998, Harvard students began a Living Wage Campaign that would last for almost four years. The Campaign was headed by the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) and aimed to help all Harvard employees receive a “living wage”. The demands of the LWC were that each Harvard employee (janitors, security guards, cafeteria workers, etc.) receive a wage of $10 per hour or more. Most workers were receiving the minimum wage at the time, which was around $6.50. In 1998 Cambridge, MA, this was not enough to get by individually, let alone to support a family.

University of Vermont students campaign for a higher living wage, 2006-2008

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

Beginning in late 2005, students at the University of Vermont (UVM) were involved in a movement to increase the wages of school employees such that workers could be given a "living wage." Primarily focused on food-service employees contracted by Sodexho, the nonviolent campaign sought out and acquired support from local officials, faculty, and even state legislators. The students believed they needed in intervene in order to secure a wage that was equal to the state standard of a living wage as established by the state legislature.

University of Virginia students raise minimum wage for campus workers, 2006

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

In 2006, University of Virginia students launched an intensive campaign to raise minimum wages at their institution. Discontented with the minimum $9.37 an hour, these students urged the school’s administration to provide fairer wages, wages that they determined to start at $10.27 an hour.

Notre Dame University students fight for campus workers' rights, 2005-2008

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

Students at University of Notre Dame started a living wage campaign at their school in September 2005 after learning about similar campaigns happening at Harvard University and Georgetown University. A living wage was defined as a family of four being able to live above the poverty line on the working parent’s salary. The Notre Dame students campaigned to raise the minimum pay wage from $8.25 up to $12.10 per hour. The group felt that it was the responsibility of the institution as social Catholics to understand the importance of achieving a living wage for workers.

Swarthmore students campaign for card check neutrality in workers' unionizing, 2006

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

Swarthmore College is a small liberal arts college close to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the spring semester of 2006 campus workers at Swarthmore began to organize a union. For the union to be established a significant number of the workers had to vote in favor. However, some workers felt that the election method at the college, the standard National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) method, did not support a safe environment for the workers to freely express themselves.

UC Santa Cruz students and employees campaign for diversity and economic justice, 2005-09

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

When the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) hired Chancellor Denice Denton in 2004 the transition entailed her earning a salary of $282,000 a year and $600,000 of renovations made on her future house of residence, including a controversial $30,000 dog run. This became a topic of debate; students as well as media critics quickly brought these details to light and demanded accountability for the choices of spending at the University. Under these circumstances, employees at the University began to call attention to the fact that they earned a less than living wage

Washington University students sit-in for living wage, United States, 2005

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

Students at Washington University of St. Louis formed the Student Worker’s Alliance (SWA) in November 2003 after 36 Nicaraguan campus workers were fired and deported to Nicaragua. SWA aimed to “begin a living wage campaign” for all workers at the university.

University of Tennessee employees campaign for flat-rate raise, 2004-2007

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

A 2002 study found that 68% of the 2,100 hourly Tennessee public higher education employees were being paid less than a living wage of $9.50 per hour with benefits. Earning less than a living wage could force an employee to rely on public subsidies for food, healthcare, or housing. Inspired by this and similar statistics, United Campus Workers (UCW), which recently merged with the Communication Workers Association, launched its “UT Workers Need a Raise” campaign in October 2004, with the goal of a $1,200 across-the-board pay raise for all University of Tennessee employees.

University of Buffalo students campaign for janitors' rights, 2005-2006

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

Along with many student activists in United States universities in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the University of Buffalo Students Against Sweatshops (UBSAS) ran a campaign to pressure their university to join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC). After years of student protests and demonstrations, the University of Buffalo (UB) announced that they would join WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The group of student activists feared that their university’s decision to also join the corporate-sponsored FLA would compromise the efforts and aims of workers’ rights groups.

Bucknell University students campaign for living wage, 2001

Student Living Wage Movement (late 1990s - mid 2000s)
 

In 1999, Students at Bucknell University formed a group called the Bucknell Caucus for Economic Justice (BCEJ). They took on research and conducted interviews to demonstrate the inferior conditions under which staff at Bucknell worked. In their research, the BCEJ consulted with the staff members at Bucknell University and discovered many incidents in which managers and supervisors infringed upon the rights of the staff members, often those in the lowest wage bracket.

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