Op-ed: Statement on the minimum wage and childcare benefits for Wash. U. campus workers

Washington University Faculty Members

We, concerned faculty members of Washington University in St. Louis, enthusiastically support the Washington University Graduate Workers Union (WUGWU) and the Service Employee International Union’s (SEIU) campaign for a $15/hour minimum wage and childcare benefits for all Washington University campus workers. This minimum wage would fairly compensate regular and contract employees as well as graduate students who provide critical support for the University’s operations. Housekeepers, landscapers and food service workers in particular provide a welcoming environment for students, alumni, parents, faculty and administrators. A livable and family-sustaining wage will provide a good quality of life for the workers who maintain this campus day-to-day and year-round.

We have been gratified to see recent increased material support for graduate students, including guaranteed summer funding and dental coverage. These measures lessen the financial hardship of post-graduate education and help alleviate stress, thus making excellence in scholarship and teaching easier to achieve. The recent increased support for undergraduate students from middle- and lower-income families is a similarly welcome development, one that is already having a significant impact by making a Wash. U. undergraduate education more accessible. We know that these commitments are expensive, and we applaud the University for funding them.

We also share Wash. U.’s commitment to confronting and mitigating inequality in the city of St. Louis, and we recognize the University’s obligation to be a force for economic equality in our home region. Wash. U. can help to reduce the city’s stark disparities by increasing compensation for hourly employees and providing benefits that aid people on the lower ends of the income scale, especially those with children.

Not only would these policies have an immediate, tangible impact on the lives of hundreds of University employees and their families, they would also identify Wash. U. as a local and national leader. A $15 minimum wage across the University would show that we are committed to reducing economic inequalities that exacerbate a range of social ills. This would burnish our reputation as a good to place to work and study, help draw new students and faculty to us, enhance relationships with local institutions, and deliver a boost to the local economy, all of which would benefit Wash. U. in turn.

With Missouri voters recently approving Proposition B, the state minimum wage will soon climb to $12. Rather than waiting to be pulled into the new economic conditions this will bring, we should be proactive. Washington University should set the curve by committing to a wage standard that offers employees and graduate students both the necessities of life, and its pleasures.

Jean Allman
Professor of African and African American Studies, J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities

Susan Frelich Appleton
Lemma Barkeloo & Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law

Peter Benson
Associate Professor of Anthropology

J. Dillon Brown
Associate Professor of English

Pannill Camp
Associate Professor of Performing Arts

David Cunningham
Professor of Sociology

Mary Ann Dzuback
Associate Professor of WGSS and Education

Cynthia Feliciano
Professor of Sociology

Andrea Friedman
Professor of History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Margaret Garb
Professor of History, Co-Director of the Prison Education Project

Bret Gustafson
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Clarissa Rile Hayward
Professor of Political Science

Marvin Marcus
Professor of Japanese Language and Literature

William J. Maxwell
Professor of English and African and African American Studies

Paige McGinley
Associate Professor of Performing Arts

Erin McGlothlin
Associate Professor of German and Jewish Studies

Angela Miller
Professor of Art History and Archaelogy

Kimberly Norwood
Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law

Shanti A. Parikh
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Tim Portlock
Associate Professor, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Jason Purnell
Associate Professor of Public Health

Nancy Reynolds
Associate Professor of History

Jake Rosenfeld
Associate Professor of Sociology

Jessica Rosenfeld
Associate Professor of English

Akiko Tsuchiya
Professor of Spanish

Abram C. Van Engen
Associate Professor of English

Julia Walker
Associate Professor of English and Drama

Rebecca Wanzo
Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Geoff Ward
Associate Professor of African and African American Studies