Banners found across Rutgers call for worker wage increases
On Monday, five banners advocating for an increase in University worker minimum wages were posted across campus.
Brower Commons, the Student Activity Center (SAC), the New Brunswick train station, downtown Barnes and Noble and Super Fresh on Kirkpatrick Street were found sporting banners that read "Rutgers Pays Poverty Wages" and “Give Workers a Living Wage #15OnCampus."
In December 2017, University President Robert L. Barchi announced a 30-percent raise in student worker wages. This initiative became effective on Jan. 1 and increased the wage from the state mandated minimum of $8.44 per hour to $11 per hour, for more than 30,000 students.
The next day, a Rutgers Board of Trustees meeting at the Douglass Student Center ended abruptly after it was interrupted by protesters in United Students Against Sweat Shops (USAS) along with students from other organizations on campus like the Puerto Rican Student Union. The protestors passed a line of security officers that separated them from the center of the room and chanted “We work, we sweat, put that 15 on our set,” and “we want justice, and power and 15 an hour” until the meeting was adjourned, according to The Daily Targum.
The USAS commented on the event in a press-release email, saying that 12 student organizers are currently facing charges from the University for participating in “a peaceful demonstration where they sang and occupied a meeting space.” The organization also claimed that organizers reported instances of police intimidation due to their involvement with the campaign.
In an interview with the Targum, USAS said it agrees with the messages written on the banners.
“President Barchi making $325 an hour is disgusting compared to the low wages he’s paying his workers. Furthermore, USAS decries the suppression of student organizers fighting for the end of poverty in New Brunswick ... Without USAS fighting for the end of poverty within the Rutgers New Brunswick community, President Barchi would not have raised the student worker minimum wage to $11 an hour,” the organization said.
“Access and affordability for all students is a top priority at Rutgers University," said Dory Devlin, interim senior director of University News & Media Relations, in an email to the Targum. "Knowing that more than 13,000 of our students work many hours each week on our campuses to defray education costs, President Barchi increased the minimum wage for student workers employed by Rutgers on all campuses from $8.44 per hour to $11 per hour, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The University will continue to work to keep tuition increases at a minimum while seeking new ways to support students as they pursue their degrees.”