In Charlottesville, Virginia, student activists at the University of Virginia are staging a hunger strike to bring attention to the institution’s pay policies and its employees’ demand for a living wage. 18 students have joined forces to demand that new school president Teresa Sullivan bring up the issue during this week’s Board of Visitors meeting:
The campaign is demanding $13 base wage per hour, before benefits, for all university employees. Many of the school’s employees are women and people of color, according to students working on the campaign. According to organizers who referenced research by the Economic Policy Institute, the salary demand reflects the cost of living in the surrounding Charlottesville area.
The strike began on February 18, but the campaign for a living wage has been around for 14 years. Students are hopeful that the school’s new president, Teresa A. Sullivan, will be more receptive to talk of a living wage, especially since Sullivan is a sociologist who’s written a book on the importance of earning a living wage.
“It’s ridiculous for people who work in dining halls to not be able to afford food,” says Seth Kaye, a student at the University of Virginia.
Virginia has made headline labor news lately as legislators have attempted to suppress wages and union labor on the Dulles rail project. This protest will bring to light yet another sector of the economy being affected by low wages as the state continues to be hammered with endless negative press regarding womens’ rights.