The University of Virginia (UVA) hunger strike for a living wage entered its 11th day today with twenty students continuing to fast for a living wage for all University employees. Strikers say the majority of workers at the university are women and black.
After years of dialogue with administration, marches, rallies, petitions, and public resolutions, the Living Wage Campaign of UVA began a Hunger Strike on Feb. 18th to urge the university to enact a living wage policy. Organizers are asking school administrators to pay their employees enough to meet the basic cost of living in Charlottesville.
“Our University seeks to distinguish itself as a caring community and prides itself on traditions of honor and student self-governance. However, in our “caring community,” hundreds of contract employees may make as little as $7.25/hour while six out of the top ten highest paid state employees in Virginia hold administrative positions at the University,” wrote Joseph Williams, a hunger striker and football player at UVA, on Michael Moore’s website.
“Many employees, mostly women and African Americans, do not receive enough pay for their basic necessities to exist in Charlottesville, where the cost of living is nearly 10% higher than the national average,” Williams said.
The Campaign has committed to a hunger strike in order to urge UVA to adopt a living wage of $13.00/hr indexed to inflation for all university employees, including contracted employees.
Angelie Mendoza, a second year student at UVA, says she joined the hunger strike because her “family has gone through a lot of troubles over the years and I couldn’t let another family experience any bit of the troubles I’ve been through.”
Mendoza wants everyone to know the experiences of the workers, their testimonies, the hunger strike and the way everyone is feeling is “very real.”