Burlington, VT — UVM Staff United, a group dedicated to improving working conditions at the University of Vermont recently met with the administration but upper management didn’t see eye-to-eye with their requests.
In response, hundreds of UVM staff held a rally outside the Waterman Building Thursday, demanding better wages and fairer contracts. They say hundreds make less than $20 an hour, rely on food stamps, or work several other jobs.
“For me personally, I have taken on two additional jobs and I’m also volunteering in medical studies in order to save up for a rainy day,” said Jamie Graham, a staff member at UVM.
Graham has spent five years working in the biomedical health sciences department at UVM and feels strongly about the school raising wages for staff.
“A small percentage raise on my salary of $31,000 would mean I get an extra $70 a month. A fair wage increase must have a base wage increase across the board,” said Graham.
The rally comes one day after a bargaining session between UVM Staff United and the administration. Members of the bargaining team say seven months of work was met with a disappointing counter offer.
“They indicated more interest in investing in buildings than they are in the people who work in those buildings,” said Rachel Wallace-Brodeur, who is on the bargaining team. Both Wallace-Brodeur and her colleague Ellen Kaye stood together on the steps of the Waterman Building.
The Administration said in statement: “We continue to negotiate in good faith with UVMSU. UVMSU and UVM agreed through ground rules that our negotiations should be private. We respect that agreement, and will not comment on the details of negotiations at this time.”
“Do you think hundreds of people working the state’s only University and second-largest employer should be making less than $20 an hour?” asked Kaye to supporters. Kaye shared stories of staff who have fallen into debt, can’t put food on the table, or afford rising rent costs.
The next bargaining session is April 1, but before that, staff will come together to figure out how to proceed.