​UNITED FOR A LIVING WAGE: In solidarity with Black Dot protests

Supporting of a “Culture of Truth” at the University

We, the members of Workers and Students United for a Living Wage, stand in solidarity with the Black Dot protests and organizing that followed Martese Johnson’s assault and arrest by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control officers last Wednesday, March 18. The violence done to Johnson, and the community’s response since then, are evidence of systemic inequalities and injustices that characterize life on Grounds for many members of U.Va.’s staff, student body and faculty.

Statements on the part of University administrators that “black lives matter” are useless without credible and meaningful change. In solidarity with the Black Dot protesters, we call upon Teresa Sullivan, the Board of Visitors and the entire University administration to turn their words into actions.

The devaluation of black life in Charlottesville is not limited to physical violence at the hands of authorities. It is also a daily fact of life for the disproportionately black and female low-wage labor force that keeps this University functioning. As activists across the nation insist, there is a clear intersection between the fight for living wages and the realization that black lives matter. U.Va.’s conscious and ongoing decision to pay low wages to its most vulnerable employees and to allow its contractors to pay the federal minimum wage without providing benefits is an affront to the idea that this University values black lives.

We support and second Black Dot’s call for a “Culture of Truth” at this university. As the past week’s events have shown, secrecy goes hand-in-hand with violence and oppression. We call on U.Va.’s leadership to embrace not only law enforcement reform but to finally live up to its commitments to honor, transparency and caring by taking the simple step of paying employees — and forcing contractors to pay their employees — a wage that allows them to live with dignity in this community. Fair-paying jobs and access to decent education, not additional policing, is what makes our community inclusive and safe.

David Flood, Laura Goldblatt and Caitlin Levine on behalf of Workers and Students United for a Living Wage.

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