Having found that there are employees, such as custodial staff and food service workers, that make less than a living wage, we will be launching a campaign on October 18 to remedy this problem.
According to the Penn State Living Wage Calculator, individuals living in Cleveland County must earn $13 per hour to meet their basic living needs for a family of four.
In our conversations with staff members, some shared with us stories of making $8 per hour, and making so little that they could not afford insurance for their children. Others have complained about OU’s at-will employment policy which permits the University administration to fire staff for any reason or for no reason at all.
SDS believes that such treatment is inhumane and unjust. It is wrong for any employer, especially a public institution, to pay their workers so little that they cannot properly support their families and take care of all their basic needs. It is also wrong to provide basically no job security, keeping workers in a state of constant anxiety about their next paycheck.
Because there is no law that would require the University to recognize even a unanimously supported staff union, SDS will launch a website where we intend to centrally organize a campaign to encourage sympathetic students, faculty, staff, and others to pressure the University to finally meet its obligations to its low-wage employees.
The site, which will be provided in Spanish and English, will begin to highlight stories from workers on campus, explain what the University needs to do, and help staff and others get involved in the project.
In addition to launching the website, a push will begin on October 18 to reach out to more University employees to collect their stories and work with them to achieve this goal. Because the University will be inclined to fire any staff attempting to help, we have committed ourselves to keeping communications and stories from staff members entirely anonymous.
We have already spoken to dozens of staff and collected a few of their stories, but starting October 18, we will launch the website, launch our campaign, and make a concerted push to bring light to the injustice of poverty wages at OU.