Hungry for a Living Wage

At the University of Virginia, 17 students (now including a member of the school’s beloved athletic program) are entering the 7th day of a hunger strike, calling for living wages for all campus employees. 

The salaries on campus speak for themselves: top UVA administrators earn somewhere between $400,000 - $700,000 while the current starting wage for on-campus employees of $10.65 falls far short of the area’s living wage of $13. Outsourced private employees, an increasing share of the school’s workforce, are often are paid as low as $7.25, the federal minimum wage.

The students in the hunger strike are fighting the right fight, asking that all employees “direct or contract be paid a living wage of $13.00 per hour plus benefits.” This is a reasonable request, as Demos explained in last year’s report, “America’s Middle Class and the Jobs Crisis”:

In 2000 the median wage of adult workers was (in 2010 dollars) $17.41 and by 2010 it had barely grown to $17.60. During this same period the annual increase of productivity was over 2.5 percent. Who benefited from this growth? Between 1993 and 2008 the top 1 percent captured 52 percent of all new income in the economy.

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