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:
- Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — “Union Rallies to Push for Raise for Workers, Assistants at UA” and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Little Rock edition — “Union Rallies to Push for Raise for Workers, Assistants at UA.” Articles are behind a subscription pay wall and may require a login, short survey or fee to open.
- “National Union Calls on UA System, Officials to Raise Minimum Wage” — Arkansas Traveler campus newspaper
- “AFSCME Local 965 Calls For Higher Wages at UA” — KNWA-TV/KFTA-TV
- “Employee Union Rallies for Living Wages at U of A” — KHBS-TV/KHOG-TV
- “Union Launches Living Wage Campaign” — KUAF-FM public radio
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.