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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


SLAC and ASM mobilize students for workers’ rights, fair pay

Members of student government and a student organization pushed for workers’ rights and more education Saturday afternoon in an effort to address student workers’ rights and their relevance at the University of Wisconsin.

The Student Labor Action Committee and Associated Students of Madison hosted the “Student Workers’ Rights Kick-off and Training,” which focused on teaching attendees how to apply for a job on campus and what goes on behind the scenes of the employment process.

Leland Pan, the College of Letters and Science representative for ASM, said he felt the issue of workers’ rights was brought to the forefront after protests that occurred at the Capitol last year.


“We were wondering how the university treats student workers,” he said.

ASM Chair Allie Gardner echoed Pan’s feeling.

“People paid more attention to labor issues [after the protests] because they were brought to the front of their minds,” she said.

The meeting began with presenters sharing the general idea of creating a committee to address worker rights at UW, and providing reasons why students are thinking about this issue now in particular.

During the meeting, presenters said UW tuition has quadrupled in the last 20 years and that raises in student minimum wage have not compensated for this.

As of now, a typical student worker is paid $8.50 an hour, compared to the minimum living wage of $11 an hour in the City of Madison.

Students have run into many difficulties when it comes to paying off school tuition, books and necessities for living, even going so far as to becoming homeless in order to stay in school, Pan said.

Gardner also pointed out the lack of communication within the community of student workers, and said most of them do not know who to contact if a problem would arise in their workplace.

“If your boss would maybe yell at you or abuse you, would you know where to turn to”? Pan said.

After the presentation, participants in the meeting were asked to explain their reasons for attending and what student workers rights meant to them.

Specific issues addressed included topics like reporting grievances and supporting tuition on minimum wage salaries.

One audience member spoke up to the group and said he used to attend UW but had to leave because he could not support himself as a student while holding a job and dealing with diabetes.

Joe Richard, a union organizer and representative of the International Organization for Standardization in Florida, gave the group ideas on how approach addressing student workers’ rights. He said communication within the worker community is necessary.

“A tried and true method we have relied on is organization,” he said.

He went on to explain that, theoretically, unions were about shifting the balance of power rather than the money that organizations save with lower wages.

“It’s not money for corporations – it’s power,” he said.

Pan also said he wanted to emphasize that the movement and proposed committee will in no way be a union, but rather a group to address workers’ issues in general at UW.

In terms of student involvement, Gardner said a strategy meeting later this week will address the movement and the logistics of the proposed committee.

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