Category Archives: Correspondence

Open Letter from AFL-CIO President Trumka to UVa President Sullivan

On March 2, 2012, AFL-CIO President Donald Trumka sent an open letter to UVa’s President Teresa Sullivan. Here are some highlights:

While it may be financially convenient to outsource labor to meet the “needs” of the university, it does not relieve you of the obligation to ensure that equal pay is guaranteed for equal work[ [for contract employees]. This is both an inherent human right and an American value, one that an institution of your caliber should willingly support.”

“The AFL-CIO, on behalf of the 12.2 million members of our affiliated unions, stand in solidarity with the students who participated in this hunger strike — and with all who seek a greater voice and the ability to earn a fair wage for a full day’s work. We urge you to take immediate steps to address the needs of all your employees.”

The letter can be read in full here: President Trumka letter to President Sullivan

Monday Admin Meeting Response Speeches

The following responses were read at the rally today at the Rotunda to announce the results of the 7am meeting with Administrators President Teresa Sullivan, VP COO Michael Strine, VPSA Pat Lampkin, and VP HR Susan Carkeek. The #UVAHungerStrike continues until real progress is made.

Prof. Susan Fraiman:

This morning, five members of the Living Wage Campaign’s negotiation team met with President Sullivan and other administrators.  We appreciate that they met with us, the tone of the meeting was reasonably cordial, and we felt that we identified at least some common ground between our respective positions.  They reaffirmed their commitment to improving the pay of our lowest-paid workers.  And, they have offered to meet with us again, as soon as tomorrow, to see if we can negotiate a way to address the concerns of the campaign and end the hunger strike.

However, while there is some agreement on the goal of improving pay for those at the bottom of the payscale, there is much less agreement on how this goal can be achieved.  Though we remain hopeful about a meeting tomorrow—a meeting that would afford the opportunity for actual negotiation–it is fair to say that, at this point, no real progress has been made, nor has any real negotiation yet taken place.  At least so far, President Sullivan and her team have met none of our demands, nor have they given any good indication that they are seriously willing to commit to any of our proposed measures in the near-term future.  Instead, they pointed once again to budgetary constraints, logistical constraints, political constraints, as well as to other budgetary priorities.

David Flood:

We need to be clear: fundamentally, we are making a moral demand of the university.  Today at the meeting, President Sullivan and her team stressed over and over that they must balance the cost of employee raises against the broader mission of making the university an institution of excellence.  But we say, the ends do not justify the means. U.Va. is and must continue to be a top-tier institution, but it cannot do this on the backs of underpaid and exploited workers. Today, after our meeting, the University posted another statement on wages on its homepage.  Like the emails from President Sullivan and statements from Carol Wood, this statement completely ignores the thousands of contract employees who make this university run, and who can be paid as little as $7.25 an hour. It doesn’t acknowledge that the university DOES have the right to insist on equal pay for equal work from contractors. It persists in asserting that direct employees are paid between 17 and 20 dollars an hour, when they are actually paid $10.65 an hour.

In the last year, U.Va. has gotten a lot of good news.  It ranks, as always, in the top tier of public and private institutions.  Forbes magazine notes that our endowment grew last year at a fantastic rate—about 28%, the most productive of any college endowment in the country.  We currently sit on nearly 5 billion dollars.  And yet, administrators still hesitate to even endorse the idea of a living wage.

We are tired of these contradictions between their words and their actions.  We are tired of them pretending that contract workers don’t exist. We are really, really tired of starving ourselves to get them to finally pay attention to this issue.  Unfortunately, we will continue this hunger strike, and we will continue to picket.  We will continue to let them know that this campaign is not going away without real change on their part.  We now tentatively have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning at 7 am.  We truly hope this one proves to be more productive.