Cards United Against Sweatshops, or CUAS, is championing a new cause—raising the minimum wage for U of L employees. The student group led a campus-wide protest Thursday demanding for the university to take action.
The protest began at 2:30 p.m. outside of Grawmeyer Hall, but eventually transitioned to heavily-populated spots around campus, such as the Student Activities Center, the Quad outside of the library and Lutz Hall.
“The purpose of events like this is to educate the campus community on the campaign we’re running,” said CUAS member Maddie Clabough. “We also plan on hearing from actual U of L workers and employees who aren’t receiving a living wage, and how they’d be impacted by the decision to raise their salary.”
The group chanted multiple phrases in unison about unfair wages, making their presence known throughout campus. CUAS-led protests and teach-ins aren’t just geared toward making noise, however. They aim to raise awareness and attract students to join their cause.
“As a student body, U of L needs these kinds of protests in order to come together and decide which issues need to be tackled,” says CUAS member Nathan Groneck.
Among the issues CUAS has on their agenda, low worker wages for the university are at the forefront.
Groneck believes U of L President James Ramsey and other high-level staff members receive far too big of a salary, while a large portion of on-campus employees barely make ends meet.
In November 2013, the university became the first public university in Kentucky to raise its minimum wage for regular staff employees to $10. A February 2014 university press release says Shirley Willihnganz, the former provost, approved a proposal to increase the minimum wage by 25 cents per hour for four years. By July 2017, the hourly wage for regular staff employees will be $11.
However, a large number of workers—such as those in food services, housekeeping, grounds keeping and security—are not regular staff employees. These employees are paid by a contractor.
“A living wage for a single parent with one child in Louisville is $19.02 an hour. At U of L, those not completely covered by the university aren’t coming close to receiving that kind of salary—one that should be available for anyone who has a family to support,” says Groneck.
Clabough, Groneck and their companions are not afraid of the possible repercussions of the protest.
“As of right now, our main goal for the semester is to work with U of L administration to raise the minimum wage for all employees to $10.10 an hour,” says Groneck. “While our objective may change as the year progresses, this is something that has to be addressed by anyone at this school that isn’t afraid to fight against unreasonable pay.”