February 28, 2012

UVA Hunger Strike

Students are protesting in support of university workers.

Protestors: One, two, three, four! No one should be working more!

Scott: Around a dozen students at the University of Virginia have taken a vow not to eat until the school makes changes. They say some contracted employees make as little as $7.24 per hour, and that is simply not enough. They are asking the school to pay $13 an hour, which is a living wage according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.

Protestors: What do we want? Living wage! When do we want it? Now!

Scott: A living wage is the minimum amount of income someone must earn in order to meet longterm basic needs like a home, food, and clothing. The demonstrators say that is not what employees are getting at UVA.

Protestor: We’re out here announcing to the university after 14 years of agitating and petitioning and negotiating and meeting for a living wage. It’s time to make this happen now.

Scott: But the university says its wages are fair, and released this statement: “The actual current minimum starting pay for an entry-level employee, including the average level of health benefits, is $14.55 per hour, exceeding the students’ demand by $1.55 per hour.

Students are calling that statement misleading and say those figures include benefits, not just the money employees take home.

Emily: The base wage per hour that employees take home is $10.65. We’re asking $13 before any benefits.

Scott: Demonstrators, like UVA football player Joseph Williams, say they are representing workers who are afraid to speak out.

Joseph Williams: The university is not supporting all the members of the university as its supposed to. We feel as students, as members of the community, we have responsibility, really, an obligation to stand up to those who aren’t being represented.

Scott: The students are concerned about going without food but say their cause is more important.

Joseph: I’m concerned about to it a certain extent but, at the end of the day, this a cause that’s bigger then myself and is bigger than any individual. So, I have an obligation to, basically, humankind, the human family.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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