Living Wage Protesters Arrested

All seventeen students protesting the living wage by staging a Madison Hall sit in have been arrested, Andy Mullan reports in The Cavalier Daily. Their refusal to leave was a planned act of civil disobedience, since the building has to close during off hours. They had recently provided their counterproposal to President John Casteen, and were described as being in the midst of negotiations. Some of the students wouldn’t leave under their own power, and were hauled into waiting police wagons.

The entire thing made for quite a spectacle. Assuming that media were present, or at least will use the student photos, this is not going to look good on Monday’s news. On the other hand, the idea might be to get it in the news tomorrow, on Easter, when few are likely to be watching. Who knows where things will go from here?

25 thoughts on “Living Wage Protesters Arrested”

  1. “Yes you can” “No we can’t” isn’t a good fight.

    And that’s what this fight was – trying through individual civil disobedience to encourage institutional civial disobedience.

  2. Kent State acted shamefully in 1970. I’m not sure I’d characterize UVa’s actions as shameful.

  3. It is a good fight. The people who scrub the toilets at UVa hosptial should be able to go to UVa hospital without going on Medicaid. Unless you think we should all be on Medicaid.

  4. I hereby make typos! Also, the AG’s office, I submit, is lying when they say the University cannot write contracts that tell the employers what wages & benefits they must pay. Do you even know who the AG is? Hint, he’s not a Democrat.

  5. They’re lucky to be getting $9+ an hour when their skills aren’t worth $5 an hour for any other employer. But I guess some college students feel the need to imitate their Vietnam-era parents and find some issue to latch onto. Hope they enjoy prison and get to stay there for a good long time.

  6. They’re lucky to be getting $9+ an hour when their skills aren’t worth $5 an hour for any other employer.

    What skills, specifically, do you believe deserve less than minimum wage? Is it fair to say that you believe that the minimum wage should be eliminated entirely? And do you have any proposal for how society should deal with the cost of supporting families whose wage-earners can’t make enough to cover the cost of shelter and food?

  7. The market ought to determine the “minimum” wage. In fact, by inflating the minimum wage well beyond the federal mandate, UVa has artificially created a market in which independent companies in the food or janitorial services businesses in this area must pay a higher wage just to attract and retain employees, even of minimal skills, particularly with virtually non-existant unemployment here. But this idea of a rising tide lifts all boats when it comes to salary simply doesn’t work; we’re paying the price for labor costs every time we eat out in Charlottesville. UVa students are paying for the above-market pay schedules will higher tuition. And external forces like rising energy costs will make it such that the so-called “living wage” will never be sufficent. If Casteen were to implement $10.72 today, the same protestors would be calling for $11 or $12 by the fall.
    Basically, it’s an endless cycle of inflation that, however well-intentioned, will result in higher costs and higher taxes for everyone while bringing minimal incremental benefit to society. It’s the same kind of wealth redistribution that people on the extreme left have been seeking from Marx to Ted Kennedy and LBJ on down.

  8. The market ought to determine the “minimum” wage.

    It’s your belief that if there are people who will clean toilets for $1/hour, then that’s what UVa should pay, and not a penny more?

  9. Absolutely. But the fact of the matter is that the market compels employers to pay considerably more. UVa has set the market rate at $9+ an hour, so others have to at least approach that level in order to keep people showing up for work. The idea isn’t to pay someone as little as possible, it’s to create a workforce that’s at least minimally motivated to show up on time, work their scheduled shift and not commit fraud while they’re on the job. If you pay someone $1/hour, you’ll end up paying the price in turnover, theft, morale, etc. There’s no reason for the government to meddle in that process, however.

  10. “Basically, it’s an endless cycle of inflation that, however well-intentioned, will result in higher costs and higher taxes for everyone while bringing minimal incremental benefit to society. It’s the same kind of wealth redistribution that people on the extreme left have been seeking from Marx to Ted Kennedy and LBJ on down.”, says our anonymous market cheerleader, thwothebumsout.

    And supposedly everything will be better once everyone is paid as little as they can tolerate. Well, if not better, then according to the Libertarian panacea then things will be fine once those who control the means of production can dictate wages. If that is too Marxist for you, consider that Adam Smith also recognized this same inherent problem in Capitalism. This is why we enact laws as a counter balance. The students are taking this to the next level to compel the University to sharpen its pencil and find a way to allot funds to the least paid among its staff.

    Reactionaries have warned about the end of industry with every measure to raise wages. During twelve years of Reagan/Bush we had no change to minimum wage, but under Clinton it was raised twice. The sky didn’t fall, but there was a marginal improvement in living standard for the working poor.

  11. I think the Living Wage is another way we preserve poverty and disparity. Let’s say 2 poor people apply to UVa to clean toilets for $5 an hour. The lower the wage they are willing to accept, the more needy they are. Understanding that the employee sets the wage, you’d be able to hire 2 people instead of 1. As it is, the one hired enjoys a much higher standard of living than others who are unemployed, homeless, and willing to work for less. What if you were so poor you were willing to do the job for free? As a way to show initiative and develop contacts that lead to a paying job? Somehow the $1/hr worker is probably a thief, but the volunteer is conscientious person. Seems to me, the less you’re willing to work for, the better the quality of work. In the old days you could work your way up from nothing. The Living Wage is so popular because it gives everybody a raise. When the toilet cleaner’s wage goes to $10.72, whoever was making that before just got a raise and so on. And UVa turns its back on those who offer their labor at a lower rate for a longterm gain.

  12. Umm, my point was that cleaning toilets & garbage collecting should be a step up to a better job, a more stable place in society, and/or better prospects for younger family members. In fact, that is what those jobs used to be. Witness home-owning working class Cvillians all over town. Well, parts of town! So let’s all talk about the toilet cleaners, but with super respect! Now, the protesters, they may say silly things, but somehow their privileged approach does get a lot of press…

  13. There are a lot of pretty inane “thought” experiments above. To correct the record: studies of living wage ordinances show that they do NOT lead to higher unemployment and that they lead to only marginally higher employer costs. These costs, however, result in higher productivity and lower turnover, both of which benefit employers. So the various musings above are not grounded in the actual examined reality of living wage ordinances/practices.

    UVa could fund a living wage by taking a cut out of bloated administrative salaries and the bloated athletics budget. No need for higher tuition.

    I know two of the students who participated in the sit-in. One is graduating from UVa with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and the other is graduating a year early so that his parents will have enough money to pay for his sibling to come here. These students are “privileged” only in the sense that it is a privilege to be at UVa. A number of them are barely middle-class.

    I find it not just misplaced but also sad that some readers are ridiculing these courageous students. Apparently, these readers have no objection that the stereotypical UVa student is a drunken preppy frat boy. But they don’t like that some of our students — alas, a small minority — are prepared to risk their studies, their personal well-being, and their future employability to fight on behalf of the most vulnerable members of the community. These students represent the creme de la creme of the UVa undergraduates, and they have already gotten more from their UVa experience and given more to this community than most of their peers. Whether one agrees with their cause or not, one should admire them.

  14. Come on, every study that’s been conducted “proving” that the living wage idea is beneficial has been funded by far-left charities like the McKay Foundation and conducted by academics with socialist tendencies. It’s like the Heritage Foundation publishing a study about the benefits of tax cuts.

  15. I know the Living Wage Campaign means well. But a $1.35 per hour increase will really not help that much. It does not address the issue of the failure of wages to keep pace with the cost of living here. UVa employees are far from being the only ones having trouble keeping up.
    That said, the University acted in its usual heavyhanded way of tolerating the protest and then lowering the boom. If the sit-in was illegal to start with, why not make the arrests when it first happened? Instead they probably lulled these kids into a false sense of safety, with the assumption that dialogue would continue.
    Maybe if employees want to play hardball they should consider a strike. Yes, they say striking is illegal, but no one can be forced to work at a job if they don’t want to.
    And here is the twist: Only the higher paid staff and faculty would strike, those with technical and clerical skills that could not quickly be replaced. The lower-paid workers would stay on. It would be easy to go out and find replacement janitors and landscapers with the pool of immigrants. But finding educated professionals could not be done quickly enough to avert some real problems . The grass would be cut and the toilets cleaned but teaching and research would grind to a halt. Not going to find research physicists down at the VEC very easily. Yes, it would require sacrifice on the part of the participants. But those with more options and more resources could withstand it better than those with little to start with. It would be a way for the more privileged academics to put their bodies on the line, so to speak.
    Have no illusions of something like this happening, but have to ask what if……?
    That would be a true insurrection on the UVA Plantation

  16. Throwthebumsout: I didn’t say the Living Wage was necessarily beneficial, only that studies show it does not cause the harm claimed by some. These studies are carried out by respected scholars.

    Hollow Boy: Any VA state employee — including any UVa faculty member — who engages in a strike is automatically and immediately terminated from employment and may not be hired by any state agency (including UVa) for 12 months from the date of termination. So don’t expect any strikes to break out soon on grounds.

  17. Seems all this amounts to is a very small group of students trying to make themselves feel better by attemting to compel a unit of government to spend other people’s money in a way that they direct. It’s an old story but one we’ve not heard the last of.

  18. Where oh where oh where have we forgotten that minimum wage is an item fifty some years old — instituted at the height of our red-scare days — and yet we didn’t think it the socialist mind-control tool we here are now deeming it.

    If minimum wage had kept up with inflation it would be $13 per hour now. I happen to clean toilets for a living — not at UVA and I do it for about the wage the UVA students are demanding. I don’t see these students as some small group to be dismissed out of hand because they are small in numbers: I reserve that kind of distain for the Little High Street Neighborhood Association demanding design control over the Region Ten project. These are people who have looked in their own backyard for inequity, found it, and are willing to acquire a criminal record to bring it to our attention. If we have a future it will come from the efforts of people like these seventeen students. I’m profoundly glad they cohabitate the planet with me.

  19. I agree that the possibility of a strike at UVa is remote. As you say striking would mean immediate dismissal. But, and this is hypothetical, suppose 500 or 1000 employees in key academic/technical/clerical positions went out. Yes, they could all be dismissed. But what would happen in the meantime until all those specialized positions could be filled? Would the University risk cutting off its nose to spite its face? Coming to a grinding halt. Having trouble recruiting high level staff because of the bad publicity it would receive. I have heard rumors that there have been some problems already in recruiting faculty due to the state’s position on benefits for same-sex partners. Not to mention the Marriage Amendment that will be on the ballot in November.
    This is the state that is known for Massive Resistance. For a state university that had to be threatened with legal action before it would admit women. Does it want to add to its reputation for repression and backwardness?
    And I hope if there were any civil liberties violations connected with those students arrests, that they hit the University, the police, and everyone else involved with everything but the kitchen sink in the way of lawsuits.

  20. Judge Smails wrote:

    Seems all this amounts to is a very small group of students trying to make themselves feel better by attemting to compel a unit of government to spend other people’s money in a way that they direct. It’s an old story but one we’ve not heard the last of.

    It was a small group of students on the inside of Madison Hall, Judge, a very dedicated bunch that were willing to suffer the consequences of their actions, but there were also lots of folks supporting them outside Mad Hall and from all over (just look at the number of posts and threads about this on cvillenews alone).

    Read some of the articles in the Washington Post and the Richmond Times Dispatch and the Cavalier Daily and the Daily Progress and try to realize that this thing is actually pretty big and not as easily dismissed as you may like.

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