Student Worker Alliance Rallies for Better Wages
BY: ZSHEKINAH COLLIER
For such a small campus, so many people contribute to keeping American University running. Some of the folks who put in the most hours and work are often overlooked, even though we see them everyday. The service workers at AU keep the residence halls clean and prepare food for students and staff on a daily basis.
On March 29, the Student Worker Alliance (SWA) held an information session on the Quad to discuss the conditions and the treatment of workers. The flyers that members of AUSWA handed out stated that many workers have been employees for over thirty years and still make a little above minimum wage.
Information provided from SWA said that workers over 68 can’t afford to retire. According to the flyers passed out after the session, American decided to use privatized cooking and cleaning services during the 1980; those companies did not contribute to the retirement funds of the service workers. This means with little to no money saved, service workers’ yearly income after retirement could be below the federal poverty line.
Another pressing issue that service workers are facing because of privatization is not having access to the same educational benefits as other staff and faculty members. Employees of American University have the opportunity for their spouses and children to attend the university after working four months at the school. According to the Human Rights Coalition at AU, service workers also had tuition benefits, but they were eventually revoked because of privatization.
The Student Worker Alliance recommends that AU provides a monthly retirement supplement for the 16 service workers that would like to retire. This would cost the university about $20,000, which is less than what the institution charges for tuition.