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Dancin' for Livable Wages at U of Vermont
Apr 4, 2006

I've been enjoying the surprisingly-decent weather up here in Burlington, VT, since Wednesday. On Thursday (March 30) I joined students, workers, faculty, union leaders and other members of the community speaking at a press conference organized by UVM's Student Labor Action Project (SLAP). The press conference kicked off SLAP's Week of Action at UVM, which culmintates this Friday (April 7) with a rally for livable wages* outside the administration's building -- quite possibly among the largest rallies in UVM's history.

The Livable Wage Campaign has been going on at UVM for two years already, led by SLAP and another group called Students for Peace & Global Justice. Many campus janitors and foodservice workers earn around $8 an hour, while Vermont's Joint Fiscal Office calculates that a worker needs to earn at least $12.02 (in 2004 dollars) to make ends meet in Burlington. $12.02 an hour is needed even if the employer offers benefits (there's a separate, higher number calculated for workers who don't receive benefits).

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to strategize with the SLAP students about their next steps in taking action to pressure President Dan Fogel, who has publicly called UVM a "progressive employer," to agree to SLAP's livable wage policy proposal! Already this week, on Monday, SLAP organized an awesome 'Dance-In': Students gathered in front of the administration building and grooved to tunes from an iPod hooked into a megaphone. Big banners said "Dancin' for Justice!" and "Funk Poverty! Boogie for Livable Wages!" After about 15 minutes outside, we danced our way into the building and straight towards the President's office. Students danced and chanted in the President's wing until his secretary was sent out to receive SLAP's policy proposal. After dancing in the wing for a little while, the party danced across campus: across the main campus lawn, through the cafeteria, and ending outside the library. At each location a student got on the megaphone to explain that they were dancing in celebration of their policy proposal and the belief that "We will win!"

Stay tuned as students, Burlington community members, and activsts around the country continue to pressure President Fogel to stop violating UVM workers' human rights and start paying livable wages!

- Jack, jack(at)

* At UVM, as well as in the state-wide campaign in Vermont, the term 'livable wages' is used instead of 'living wages.' I guess gramatically it makes more sense, eh?

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