The Richmond Industrial Workers of the World endorsed a recent open letter addressed to President Sullivan and the University of Virginia Board of Visitors in  support of the UVA Living Wage Campaign.

The Richmond, Virginia Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World would like to extend our hand in solidarity to the UVA Living Wage Campaign and the working people at the University of Virginia.  We are all here today because we recognize that conditions can be changed, and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all it’s members, students, faculty, and workers, in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, participate in a concerted direct action with one another, thus making an injury to one an injury to all!  Together we will win dignity and respect for the working class!  Solidarity, and a state wide living wage for all!   

Dear President Sullivan and University of Virginia Board of Visitors: 

We, the undersigned, write to you today to express our commitment to economic justice and to call on you to act.  

We are individuals and organizations who have great concern for the well being of the people who live and work in our community, particularly in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  We  share a commitment to economic justice and to equity in our  communities. Collectively, the organizations we represent have  thousands of members. 

As the area’s largest employer, the University of Virginia has a responsibility — indeed, an obligation — to improve our community.

We believe that the University has neglected this obligation and continues to do so. We call on you to take action by finally resolving the issue of living wages at the University in a fair, satisfying, and comprehensive way. We call on you to take this action now. 

As you surely recognize, the University affects the cost of living in Charlottesville in major ways, particularly with respect to housing costs. We believe that the University could offset the negative impacts of its increasing these costs for some of our community’s most vulnerable members by paying its employees enough to meet the cost of living.  

We remind you that in 2000 the University committed to a base pay increase for direct employees, and that we commended you for doing so.

That increase, however, did not include cost of living adjustments, nor did it include contracted employees. We had hoped that these issues would be addressed in a timely manner — certainly by now, a dozen years later. 

During that period, the Living Wage Campaign, currently configured as Workers And Students United, repeatedly presented its scrupulous research and stated its case with deep respect for administrative process. Concurrently, we in the community have stood with workers, students, and faculty. We have called on you to listen to their concerns, rallied, written letters, and requested meetings. In good faith, all of us have asked for commitments from you. The arguments have now been presented, the necessity and practicality of action proven. 

Overall, it must be said, we have not been satisfied with the University’s response. Frankly, at times we have even been disappointed by the dismissive tone of University communications. Such feelings, however, are fleeting compared with the enduring nature of the issues at stake.  And like those issues, the Living Wage Campaign will not go away — that is, until those issues are resolved in a fair, satisfying, and comprehensive manner.  

The time for straight answers and firm commitments is here. The University of Virginia needs to pay a living wage to all of its employees. We believe that the University has the potential to be a powerful force for positive change in our community. To further this end, we call for:  

  • A living wage of no less than $13.00 per hour as the base pay for all direct employees;
  • cost of living adjustments that are automatic and annual;
  • all contracts with University service providers to include a living wage and cost of living adjustments.  

We stand with Workers And Students United and fully support their demands as presented on February 8, 2012 and will stand with them on February 17, 2012 and beyond if a commitment is not made to ensure a living wage, safe working conditions, and job security for all workers by that date.

As always, workers, students, faculty, and community are standing united in our call for a living wage. We are present, we are showing up, and we are taking the steps necessary to gain equity and economic justice in our community through the establishment of a living wage for all workers at the University of Virginia.  


Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP
Virginia Organizing
Legal Aid Justice Center
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
Public Housing Association of Residents
Campus Workers United
Wayside Center for Popular Education
Cville Workers Action Network
Socialist Party of Central Virginia
Richmond General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World
Joyful Dissent  
Kristin Szakos- Vice-Mayor City of Charlottesville 
David Swanson- founder, author, blogger 
M. Rick Turner- president Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP 
Brenda Lambert- Community Activist Jim Shea- Community Activist

View the UVA Living Wage Campaigns point-by-point response to the Presidents response to the community letter [here].