Casteen Meets with Wage Protesters

UVa president John Casteen and several other high-ranking UVa officials have met with the seventeen living wage protesters staging a sit-in, Chris Hall reports for The Cavalier Daily. Between 1:15am and 2:55am the parties engaged in negotiation talks, after which food was allowed to be given to the protesters, who have begun to run out. Casteen has posted a letter to the students on his website in which he proposes that they leave Madison Hall and that they work together in addressing the matter in a less disruptive manner. The students were given until 2pm today to provide a counterproposal; there’s nothing on the students website about that just yet.

Interestingly, none of these goings-on qualify as “The Latest News About the University of Virginia”—the university makes no mention of the protest on the site.

Out of curiosity, I’ve crunched the numbers on the cost of the living wage. I used Melanie Mayhew’s numbers on full-time and part-time employees at UVa that would be affected, assumed that part-time employees average twenty hours a week, and that all employees are paid for 51 weeks of work each year on average. That’s an additional cost of $42,120 each week, or $2,148,120/year. That’s less than the combined salary of just five UVa employees: Prof. Arthur Garson, Dr. R. Edward Howell, Prof. Irving Cron, Prof. Robert Harris, and Dr. Robert Cantrell. (The five best-paid employees at UVa, as of 2004.) Perhaps that provides a sense of scale.

11 Responses to “Casteen Meets with Wage Protesters”


  • Maybe these and other professors should consider taking a pay-cut so that the other employees could get that raise; a number of the professors (perhaps not these five, but certainly others) have been very vocal about their support for a living wage, and if they could put their money where their mouth is (no pun intended), that would make a huge statement.

    Still, even on a “scale”, we must remember that $2 million is not “just” $2 million, unless your name happens to be Bill Gates.

  • Okay, so here it is: the face-saving compromise proposal. Let’s hope both sides are smart here and work something out. I read Casteen’s letter and he makes some good points about the need for coalition building and the need to convince Richmond of the wisdom of this plan–to speak their language (the language of economics and business) as well as the protester’s language (of moral imperative). I read it as Casteen challenging the protestors: if you really mean it, you’ll work hard to do this the right way, rather than simply by holding a building hostage to your demands.

  • CR UVa is looking in the wrong place for the money. Take a cut out of the horrible waste at the UVa administrative level — including bloated administrative salaries — and you’d easily come up with enough money for a living wage without undermining the already meager compensation of faculty. You could also take the money out of the athletics budget, targeting especially the obscene salaries paid to several coaches.

  • This area as a whole seems to be too much in love with the 8 or 9 dollar an hour wage, neither of which is adequate to live on, especially after taxes take a big chunk out of the check.

    I’d be happy to see UVA just move their base wage up to an even $10. When the city of Santa Monica in California adopted their living wage law it was only $10. It worked there, and nobody went out of business.

    The 8 to 9 dollar an hour wage really should be reserved for the type of jobs where one expects a no skill high turnover employee, not for people you want to keep around.

  • well all i know is that if they do increase the living wage, UVa will then cut back on a lot of employees to keep it in their budget. OR they will hire some more illegals.

  • OR they will hire some more illegals.

    “More”? Do you have reason to think that UVa is employing people illegally?

  • What a great news story that would be— visuals of illegals being hauled off grounds in wagons.

    Where’s the proof of this?

  • How about some close scrutiny for the retention raise pot of money for faculty? I agree that regular compensation for faculty is not part of the solution for the living wage issue, but retention raises might be. Retention raises are a scam whereby a faculty member is “offerred” a position at another institution and uses that offer to negotiate significant salary increases. Some people have done this repeatedly. This game is very wasteful and the money would be much better spent on the underpaid workers in need of a living wage.

  • cvilletransplant:

    “What a great news story that would be— visuals of illegals being hauled off grounds in wagons.”

    That Joe Holden! The former NBC 29 reporter always thinking of ways to incorporate the “visuals.”

  • cvilleposter:

    “That Joe Holden! The former NBC 29 reporter always thinking of ways to incorporate the “visuals.”

    Those visuals would be great if you could see them. It’s just too bad your head’s so far up your ass.

  • OK…uh…yeah…no. If you could just…?

    Yeah, that’d be greeeaat.

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