All University Must Pay A Living Wage

For years, many in the Charlottesville community have warned that the university’s failure to pay its own employees and contract employees a living wage creates an increased demand for public charity — public housing, food aid, and other public assistance — for hundreds of local full-time UVa workers, and puts hundreds of families in the position where they must seek such benefits to survive.

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The University of Virginia has had a job posting for a community resource specialist — someone who “helps UVA employees at or near entry-level hourly rates locate community resources such as housing, clothing, utilities, and food, and provides resources to help employees with personal budgeting and finances.”

The successful applicant, the notice goes on, must have “a deep understanding of the challenges faced by those seeking additional assistance, and extensive knowledge of local resources.”

Those benefits are; paid for with local, state and federal taxes paid by local residents and businesses. Added to this are thousands of dollars of goods; and services donated to help impoverished UVa workers and their families through private charities in the area each year.

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Living Wage

The university’s employees are; working hard to support their families, and they deserve to be; paid fairly for their labor. In advertising for this position, the institution clearly understands that its current wages are not adequate; surely a more dignified — and fair — solution would be; to pay all their workers a living wage in the first place.

Low-wage workers at UVa are; paid as little as $7.25 per hour. Many other universities of similar size have begun moving to a $15 starting wage, but UVa has not.

A true living wage in this community, according to Piedmont Virginia Community College’s Office of Community Self-Sufficiency Programs; would be closer to $27 per hour to enable employees to be fully self-sufficient.

New UVa President Jim Ryan has expressed support for a living wage in the past; let’s encourage him to put his support into action. Call the president’s office at (434) 924-3337; and let him know it’s time to pay all UVa workers a decent wage of at least $15 per hour.

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