Daily Worker Testimony, February 23rd

Grace* used to work for U.Va. as a contracted employee and was active with the living wage campaign during that time. “Do workers feel safe speaking out?  No… one of the reasons I left is because I saw a lot of injustice.  I spoke out at a lot of meetings and things.  I knew that soon they would fire me.  One of the things is that I had an hour for lunch, so… I was asked to speak at a living wage rally.”  She made sure that she spoke during her lunch hour so that she couldn’t be accused of misusing company time.  She had to call in outside advocates to protect herself.  “About two weeks later one of the supervisors called me in and wanted to know if I was doing it on company time… I had to bring them a copy of my time sheet and the whole nine yards… what I do on my lunch hour is my business.  People I worked with saw me go through all that and that’s why they didn’t want to speak out.  They say we don’t want to go through all that.  They’re not going to jeopardize their jobs…”

Grace, an African American women reflects on the racial climate of U.Va.  “What you have to understand is that the University… I still view the University as a plantation.  You have several people who are in charge.  You have the powers:  Board of Visitors, supervisors… even if the President has good intentions, who is monitoring to make sure the good intentions trickled down to those plantation masters… the field workers aren’t going to speak out.  Same thing, different century.”

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