Support the Washington University Sit-in

Victory for Washington University students in living wage

Washington University of St. Louis, Missouri, after a 19-day sit-in by students of the University's Student Worker Alliance (SWA) demanding a living wage for service workers, has agreed to the student demands of higher salaries and better benefits for low-paid contract employees. This goes to show that with some dedication and action, you can attain your goals!

The victorious Wash. U. students were encouraged by students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who had gone on a hunger strike and won living wages for campus employees there. These two schools that previously did not adequately take care of their employees now pay living wages!

The following was a letter from a student participating in the sit-in/occupation in the main administrative building of Washington University in St. Louis from April 4 until April 22. The sit-in was in support of campus workers who do not currently receive a living wage.

Hello from Brookings Hall.

I sent out information about our living wage campaign on the first day students occupied Washington University's admissions office; today we are on day 8 of our sit-in. Washington University's chancellor has remained as unresponsive as he can get away with, even going so far as guaranteeing his presence at a meeting today and then sending representatives at the last minute. We have, however, received endorsements from national AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, Missouri AFL-CIO president Hugh McVey, Congressman Lacy Clay, and Senator John Edwards. With such overwhelming support and our refusal to leave this office, we are optimistic about our chances of winning. In today's meeting we requested a start to negotiations but were put off. Besides sending representatives that had no binding authority, the administration showed no intention of directly responding to our proposed code of conduct. We expect this to be a sticking point given the Chancellor's previous response, a statement to the effect of, "Students don't negotiate. Only I negotiate."

Our action will prove to him that students do in fact have the power to negotiate what happens with their tuition money and to hold such supposedly progressive institutions accountable. Please let our chancellor, Mark Wrighton, know that we are not alone in our sentiments: email wrighton at wustl dot edu or call 314.935.5100.

~Meredith Davis
mldavis at wustl dot edu
Student Worker Alliance

Direct Contact with SWA:
Ojiugo Uzoma
ouzoma at wustl dotedu
What You Can Do:
1. Contact Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and tell him you are in support of a living wage
email: wrighton at wustl dot edu
phone: +1 314 935-5100
fax: +1 314 935-4744
2. Let your friends know!
3. Sign the online petition in support of a living wage for Washington University Workers. You can sign on behalf of yourself or an organization.
There is a direct link to the petition form here:
The Sit-In at Washington University in St. Louis
What has SWA done in the first 5 days?

Rally on Friday March 31
Two Aramark workers speak in support of a living wage.
Give Chancellor Code of Conduct and demand a meeting on Monday April 4

Day 1 - April 4
Chancellor did not come when we asked.
Establish Presence- 50 people in office.
WU announces that Chancellor will meet with University Council to review Code of Conduct on Mon. April 11. -attempt to delay and wait us out.
5 reps from SWA meet with Vice Chancellor Givens and 4 Deans to go over Code. 150 visitors sign their names in support.
Alumni Petition that halts donations begins.
Initiate daily rallies at noon and five.
More than 20 students sleep in the office.

Day 2 - April 5
The Sit-In appears in St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Increased contact with PFs(pre-freshmen, prospective students).
Distribute fliers.
Orange arm bands. 'Living Wage Now' shirts.
Endorsement from John J. Sweeney, president of national AFL-CIO.
Sit-IN on: Local Fox-2 News, CBS Channel 4, UPN

Day 3 - April 6
Professor petition continues to circulate Living Wage Campaigns from Georgetown, Harvard, and Stanford wrote to SWA with encouragement to stay committed.
Tent city kicks off! to show students' demands.

Day 4 - April 7
Hugh McVey, president of Missouri AFL-CIO thanks us for bringing labor issues to the press.
At noon rally, McVey and others speak out. 120 persons.
Outreach Team continues to raise awareness.

Day 5 - Friday, April 8
Deliver Chancellor a letter demanding inclusion of SWA representatives to his meeting with Univ. Council. And for a follow up meeting with all sitters-in.

Urge others to call Chancellor's office to express the importance of a living wage.
Go to Chancellor's office and do not leave until we receive affirmative answer of letter.
Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch report on Sit-IN.
5 p.m. rally with live music
Professors play music for sitters-in and outside supporters.

Day 6 - Saturday, April 9
Chancellor visits sit-in, we clarifiedy stuff about meeting, what role our two representatives have at the meeting.
We make it clear that we are ready to start negotiations as soon as possible, but he was made uncomfortable by that and was reluctant to refer to our meetings as negotiations.

Day 7 - April 10
John Edwards called and expressed his support!
Memorial service for Elizabeth Danforth, the wife of the previous chancellor.
Police Chief Don Strom comes to express of appreciation we showed to Danforth family.

Day 8 - April 11
Congressman Lacy Clay Jr. visits the sit-in and gives his support!

Living Wage NOW!

Students Empowered and Making A Difference
Everyone Involved Takes Credit in Victory

Contact them: swa_wu at yahoo dot com
314-680-8016 or
314-935-8702(office where sit in takes place)