SLAP pickets Waterman demanding livable wage

Chanting and beating drums, a crowd of about 50 students and community members entered the Waterman building Friday and seated themselves outside the president’s wing where they remained for two hours demanding a response from President Daniel Fogel. Before marching inside, representatives from Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) and the Progressive Party, Fletcher Allen Hospital workers, and the United Electrical workers union (UE) spoke on the steps of Waterman beside a giant paper-mach?? hand. The speakers thanked SLAP for all its hard work in the past year and demanded the speedy implementation of a livable wage for all University employees and contracted workers. “This is our university, this is not President Fogel’s university, and we can take control of our university!” SLAP member Max Tracy said as the protesters marched inside. At president’s wing three UVM police officers stood between the protesters and the office doors. “I just came over here because I knew they had this event and I wanted to make sure no one gets hurt. It’s a good cause,” UVM police officer Patrick Flynn said. At 2 p.m. Senior Vice President and Provost Gary Derr came out of the president’s wing and informed SLAP that Fogel will not make a formal statement until after Nov. 30, the date when Fogel is set to meet for a final time with the members of the Basic Needs and Equitable Compensation Task Force. Fogel created the task force last April in response to pressure from SLAP and the UVM community demanding that the University pay a livable wage to all employees. The task force presented their final report Oct. 4 recommending that the University institute a minimum hourly wage based on data from the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office, which constitutes a livable wage. Fogel has yet to respond to this report.The rally was organized by SLAP with the intention of convincing Fogel to sign a statement pledging his support for the implementation of a livable wage for all University employees. Three weeks ago, the administration and United Electrical (UE), the maintenance worker’s union, finished contract negotiations that began in March. The UE received a 4 percent raise, matching the rate of inflation. “It is really good they got at least 4 percent, or they would actually be taking a pay cut … we would consider it a victory, a small step toward a big solution,” said Chris Costello, a member of SLAP who helped to organize the rally. “The union negotiations was one of the barriers that Fogel cited…but they have been done for 2-3 weeks now, and still we’ve seen nothing,” SLAP member Sam Maron said.Although the UE did get a raise, it is still not livable wage. “We just signed a new contract, and we will be able to get 11.50 in three years. That is still a buck less than livable wage!” said Tom Stout, the former president of the 267 UE Local in his speech.In addition to the 181 UE members, there are also 73 not unionized workers who receive a wage below the livable wage.