May Day Rally: Protestors Demand Contractor Audits, Enter Madison Hall
On May 1st, International Workers’ Day, the Living Wage campaign held a public rally to continue to pressure the University administration to ensure that a living wage is paid to all University employees, both direct and contract.
Dr. Richard Handler, the director of the Global Development Studies program and member of the Living Wage Faculty Support Committee, opened the rally by encouraging the student members of the Living Wage campaign to continue in their struggle. Handler credited the Living Wage campaign with raising the level of political awareness and discourse at the University.
Timothy Bruno, one of the 26 students who participated in the two-week hunger strike in February, gave an impassioned speech on the subject of contract workers at the University. Despite the fact that the University retains the right to audit its contracting companies regarding their labor practices, wages, and benefits, it has never done so. “President Sullivan touts her commitment to low-paid employees,” Bruno said. “But how can you commit to people you ignore?”
Ajay Chandra and Marvin Nogueda, also former hunger strikers, announced the demands of the Living Wage campaign that the University live up to its commitment to audit contracting companies (read the full text of the demands). Following the announcement of the demands, the entire crowd of protestors marched from the steps of the Rotunda to Madison Hall to deliver the demands in person to the office of Michael Strine. They entered the building, where they were met by police officers and Associate Dean of Students Aaron Laushway, who informed the protestors that they would be subject to arrest and/or University Judiciary Committee proceedings if they did not leave the premises. Mr. Laushway did agree to deliver a copy of the demands to Mr. Strine. The protestors left peacefully.
After being expelled from Madison Hall, the protestors rallied to reflect for several moments on the steps of Madison Hall. UVa graduate Hunter Link mused, “What will happen to the administrators when their jobs are contracted out? Perhaps they’ll be out here protesting with us for fair wages and working conditions. And they’ll be welcome.”
Written by Wager, Dannah Dennis