The Living Wage Campaign at the University of Virginia announced Thursday they have ended their hunger strike that demanded school administrators pay all employees a living wage. School administration committed to audit contractors, examine the university’s labor practices, and to prioritize reviews for the lowest-paid employees.
“We have utter confidence that this action has laid the groundwork for an indexed living wage,” a statement on the Living Wage Campaign’s website read.
13 days ago, we started with 12 students hunger striking to draw attention to the need for a living wage at the University of Virginia. Through snow, through rain, through thunder and lightning, through pangs of hunger, through exhaustion, through opposition and discouragement, through hours of meetings and rally speeches, we have made our voices heard. In the past 13 days, 14 UVa students and recent grads joined the original 12, bringing the total to 26 student strikers. Over 75 members of the UVa and Charlottesville communities joined in solidarity fasts, including members of the UVa NAACP chapter, the Black Student Alliance, the Latino Student Alliance, Queer and Allied Activists, and a student at Monticello High School. Students from Georgetown, from UNC, from William and Mary, and from the University of Miami have shown support through fasting, vigils, and statements of solidarity. We can’t even list all the individuals and groups who gave this campaign the momentum it needed to engage the entire UVa community, the Charlottesville community, the UVa administration, and the local, regional, and national news media.
To all those who have supported us, we express our deepest thanks. You have been heard. We have been heard. Today, after 13 days, we announce the end of the hunger strike. But let us be very clear: this is the end of this strike, but it is not the end of the struggle. We are energized, we are organized, and we remain, as we have been for the past 13 days, and the past 14 years, hungry but hopeful for justice and a living wage here at the University of Virginia.
The Living Wage Campaign declares our action an enormous victory. Here’s a short list of what we’ve accomplished: first, the administration was forced to send two emails to some 40,000 people responding explicitly on our campaign. We’ve met with them twice on short notice in the last week. We have brought an unprecedented level of attention on grounds, in the state of Virginia, and indeed in the nation, to the issue of fair wages at UVA. We have educated this campus and the broader community, and shown that UVA students care deeply about the issue of how employees are treated. Every member of the BOV, and top administration figures, got literally thousands of emails supporting us—we know this for a fact. We have also received the support of thousands of people in the form of letters, petitions, donations, and calls. We have focused the attention and support of at least two major unions, the AFL-CIO and SEIU, on labor issues on our campus.
“This is the end of this strike, but it is not the end of the struggle,” the students said. “We are energized, we are organized, and we remain, as we have been for the past 13 days, and the past 14 years, hungry but hopeful for justice and a living wage here at the University of Virginia.”
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