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University of Virginia: Living Wage Campaign Begins Hunger Strike
NBC 29

February 18, 2012
View the Original Article

A campaign calling for higher pay for some of the University of Virginia's lowest paid employees is ramping up their demands.

Saturday afternoon students, faculty, and neighbors from the Charlottesville community rallied at the UVA rotunda with a call for action. The rally was in response to an email from UVA President Teresa Sullivan late Friday. The Living Wage Campaign says that email contained information they feel is intentionally misleading.

Members say they want change, not empty words. The Living Wage Campaign is now trying a new tactic.

Living Wage Campaign organizer Emily Filler says, "We are now officially on a hunger strike. We are taking a drastic step to make clear that we will no longer negotiate for another 14 years for living wage."

A $13 minimum hourly wage, increased job security, and safer working conditions are the demands that the campaign is requiring from the university before they leave the camp out in front of the rotunda.

Susan Framan, a UVA professor and protestor, says "I think that we are asking for social justice, we hope that this will result in an implementation of a policy which will affect not only direct employees but also contract workers."

Filler mirrored that thought by saying, "The people who make the university stand are also the people who are paid the least and this is an injustice that they won't stand for."

Some protestors took to the podium, others chanted and marched, some even making a visual statement of their campaign's message.

The campaign is reacting to a statement sent by Sullivan late Friday. The email says, in part,"I place a high priority on improving salaries for all university employees and am personally committed to improving the salaries of our lowest-paid employees."

But protestors argue actions speak louder than words. "The president has really stressed that she would like us to be a caring and concerned and respectful community. I don't see how we can be that unless we are paying a living wage to the workers on campus," said Framan.

The Living Wage Campaign will be set up in front of the rotunda from morning to dark until the university has agreed to providing a living wage for all of its employees.