Supporters Rally for U of A Living Wage Campaign

Area Media Cover Event

Local 965 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees launched its University of Arkansas Living Wage Campaign with a rally April 7, 2018.

News reports included:

Walter Hinojosa listens as D'Andre Jones speaks April 7, 2018, at the University of Arkansas Living Wage Rally at the Fayetteville Town Center Plaza. Hinojosa is president of the Northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Jones is a member of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council, chair of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission. Photo Bret Schulte
Walter Hinojosa listens as D’Andre Jones speaks April 7, 2018, at the University of Arkansas Living Wage Rally at the Fayetteville Town Center Plaza. Hinojosa is president of the Northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Jones is a member of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council, chair of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission.
Photo Bret Schulte
Image of UA Living Wage Petition
Click image for PDF of petition supporting the University of Arkansas Living Wage Campaign.

The noon rally, held in unseasonable 29-degree weather following an overnight light snow, attracted some 40 people to the Fayetteville Town Center plaza, adjacent to the city’s Farmer’s Market.

Signatures were gathered for a petition to present to Chancellor Joe Steinmetz, UA System President Don Bobbitt and the system’s Board of Trustees. An online version of the petition can be signed at change.org, which will help advance the cause greatly.

Steve Boss, UA professor of geosciences and incoming 965 secretary-treasurer, introduced the rally’s speakers:

  • Arley Ward, president of the University of Arkansas Graduate Student Congress
  • D’Andre Jones of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council and chair of the Fayetteville Civil Rights Commission
  • Walter Hinojosa, president of Northwest Arkansas Joint Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Denise Garner of Feed Fayetteville, a Democratic candidate for Arkansas House District 84
  • Mike Lee, Democratic candidate for Arkansas attorney general

Citing statistics analyzed by incoming AFSCME 965 Vice President Mike Pierce, an associate professor of history, Boss explained how the lowest paid full-time UA staff members have financial trouble, to the extent a significant segment use the campus’s Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry. Boss emphasized that graduate student research and teaching assistants have a harder time, working on a 50 percent basis, that is 20 hours a week with no benefits. Specifically, a minimum wage for $14.42 an hour is sought.

Ward used his own experiences as a grad assistant in the History Department to explain hardships while studying to earn higher degrees.

Jones examined the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and how the civil rights leader toward the end of his short life came to emphasize the importance of workers’ rights along with civil rights. King was assassinated 50 years and three days earlier helping Memphis municipal employees who were striking for better conditions and wages.

Hinojosa interplayed the history of the labor movement with current economic conditions at the university and across the country. He cited experiences from his organizing career in Arkansas and earlier in Texas.

Garner related what she has learned from many years of working in area nonprofits along with political realities of living during the Trump administration.

Lee presented a policy-oriented legal viewpoint of the state executive, legislative and judicial branches, which have been run conservatively in recent years. He is “a Little Rock attorney and a former compliance officer for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,” according to The Associated Press.

Starling Ledbetter opened and closed the program with songs, accompanying herself on guitar.

A gallery can be viewed at Photos of the 2018 U of A Living Wage Rally.

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