The student run Northwestern University Living Wage Campaign held a small press conference on Monday night to encourage the community to put pressure on the administration to establish a living wage for all Northwestern employees.
The campaign’s main priority is to convince the university to provide all campus workers a minimum of $13.23 an hour and health care coverage. According to the campaign, many Northwestern employees are not receiving sufficient compensation to provide economic security for themselves and their families. Just last year, an employee in one of the campus dining halls was discovered to be homeless.
The press conference gave the outcome of the campaign’s third meeting with Eugene Sunshine, the university’s Senior Vice President of Business and Finance. Matthew Fischler, a Weinberg senior and a National Policy Strategist in the Equal Justice Center of Roosevelt Institute, said that the two parties had yet to reach a concrete solution.
In the meeting, Sunshine said that the campaign failed to take into account certain employee benefits. He also suggested that requiring their staffing contractor to raise wages would mean that some employees would necessarily be laid off. They also discussed the technical impediment that students are not in the position to negotiate with the workers’ union.
However, Fischler remains optimistic as to the feasibility of implementing a living wage. According to him, the proposed increase would translate into an additional “two to five million dollar increase annually, which would be a small portion of Northwestern University’s yearly discretionary endowment.”
Adam Yalowitz, a campaign member and Weinberg junior, pointed out that a living wage would be a fulfillment of the commitments that the university has already made. “[President] Schapiro himself said that ‘no university financial budget should be balanced on the backs of any of our employees’. But we need to stop his words from just being empty rhetoric to actually impact workers’ salaries.”
Northwestern University Living Wage Campaign will hold an open organizational meeting on Thursday in Swift Hall 107.