Burlington, VT — The University of Vermont Staff United Union is once again asking the administration at UVM for a better contract. They say many families are struggling to get by. Staff members stood outside the Waterman Building on Monday, fighting for livable wages and fair contracts. They held signs that read “No UVM staff should be food insecure” and “Do better UVM”.
“What do we want, livable wages, when do we want it, now!”
UVM Staff United is a group dedicated to improving working conditions at UVM. One member Tiffany Sharp, a former UVM student, has worked for the school for 17 years.
“It is just so important that we show up and show them that this matters to us,” Sharp said. “I kind of grew up on this campus because my mom actually worked here as well, which is part of the reason I came here as a student.”
Sharp said the low wages have been hard on her family.
“We are a two-income family, but we have a child that has special medical needs so there are a lot of supplies and appointments and things like that that go into it.”
State leaders even gave a voice to the cause such as Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint.
“In every school that I have ever worked at it is that staff that holds everything together,” Balint said. “It is the staff that makes sure classes happen, it’s the staff that makes sure students are taken care of, they are the glue that holds all of these institutions together.”
As of Sunday, there were 230 open positions at UVM. Ellen Kaye, co-lead negotiator and a member of UVM Staff United said the staff holds this place together and they are working harder than ever to do their jobs because of shortage of co-workers.
“Over 500 people, 500 staff who work here at this university do not make 20 dollars an hour,” Kaye said.
Sharp said she will continue to fight for the pay she believes they deserve.
“With inflation and the gas prices and everything right now it really would be life-changing,” Sharp said.
On Friday there will be another rally and march for livable wages and fair contracts starting at 12 p.m. at the Howe Library. We did reach out to the school for a comment and they said they are keeping the negotiation private at this time.