Militant Journalism

United Campus Workers fight for wage increase at University of S.C.

Campus workers fight for $15 at U of SC

Following a victory in their campaign for graduate student health insurance last year, workers at the University of South Carolina are calling on the university to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The United Campus Workers union (UCW-Communications Workers of America Local 3765) launched their campaign for fair pay and living wages at USC during fall 2021, calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage and a 15% increase for graduate student stipends. Beginning in January this year, the university raised its minimum wage for full-time employees to $12 per hour. Workers at the university say that while this is a welcome development, it is still not a living wage, and it leaves out part-time staff and student workers. 

Press conference flooded with community support

Staff, faculty, and student workers spoke out at a press conference on March 29. Community members and state legislators gathered in a strong display of support as each speaker called on the university administration to meet their demands.

“[The current $12 per hour] minimum wage does not include part-time workers or contract staff … This is not a living wage. Five hundred full-time U of SC employees make less than $15 an hour. We are here to say that this is not acceptable,” said Omme-Salma Rahemtullah, an adjunct professor and staff member at the university. 

Rahemtullah also pointed out existing pay inequity along racial lines at the university, saying, “Black workers at the university make up 40% of the full-time staff that make less than $15 an hour, even though they only represent 18% of the overall workforce.” She added, “The fight for economic justice is a fight for racial justice.”

Bobbie Keitt, who has been working at the university for three decades in parking services, shared her testimonial: “After 30 years of service, I fell far short of the pay scale maximum. During my yearly evaluations, I have always exceeded excellent ratings … Based on that alone, I deserve an increase.”

Credit: Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, Used with permission.

Some state representatives echoed the demands of the workers.

“You have parents who are working multiple jobs just to provide the basic necessities for their children. We need to make a livable wage a priority,” said Rep. Jerry Govan.

Rep. Annie McDaniel, who graduated from the U of SC, spoke on behalf of the low-wage workers on campus: “I am calling on you, my alma mater … Please be a trailblazer when it comes to taking care of your own.”

Local members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Democratic Socialists of America, Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and the Raise Up/Fight for $15 campaign also joined the rally in solidarity with the campus workers. 

Related Articles

Back to top button