Source: Jill Stein for President
Learning today that University of Virginia hunger-striking students, whom she rallied with last week, were still being virtually ignored by the University administration, presidential candidate Jill Stein issued the following statement:
“Students at the University of Virginia are taking the struggle for a fair economy to new heights with their extraordinary hunger strike, now in its 11th day. They are raising the bar for decency and respect for workers everywhere, starting with living wages for all workers at the University of Virginia.” Dr. Stein visited the hunger strikers this past Friday at their invitation.
“As the strike nears the two-week mark, and students increasingly come in harms way, I urge all people who support basic fairness and dignity for workers to call UVA President Sullivan today at 434-924-3337. Tell her that as one of the wealthiest public higher education institutions in the nation, Virginia should respect the dignity of its workers and honor the students who are upholding the highest ideals of the university in their commitment to justice in their own community. It is shameful that workers are struggling at the poverty level when the university’s endowment holds billions in reserve.”
The hunger-striking students are part of a now 14-year campaign for living wages for employees at the university. Though the campaign has gained broad community support from the Charlotteseville city council, Viriginia Organizing, and the NAACP, campus administrators have been unwilling to enter into serious discussions with the living wage campaign, prompting this extraordinary action of the students.
David Flood, an anthropology graduate student on his 10th day without food commented after meeting with the Administration, “Administrators still hesitate to even endorse the idea of a living wage. We are tired of these contradictions between their words and their actions. We are tired of them pretending that contract workers don’t exist. We are really, really tired of starving ourselves to get them to finally pay attention to this issue. Unfortunately, we will continue this hunger strike, and we will continue to picket.”
Stein added, “The UVA struggle is a microcosm of the broader crisis in which workers are falling further and further behind, and wealthy employers refuse to give an inch. This takes the form of demonizing unions, adoption of “right to work” (for less) laws, attacks on collective bargaining rights of public workers, declining wages and benefits, expanding “free trade” agreements that undermine fair trade, etc. These heroic students are saying enough is enough. They are standing up for a fair economy for us all, and for decency in the low wage jobs they too may be forced to take after graduation as young people increasingly bear the burden of unemployment and declining wages. Our presidential campaign alone supports real solutions to these problems, including a Green New Deal to create 25 million living wage jobs, union rights in the workplace, the forgiving of student-loan debt, and tuition-free public higher education.”
“If the world knew how these workers are being impoverished at a wealthy public institution, and how these courageous students are being ignored by the administration, President Sullivan would be humiliated into taking action. I urge people to call President Sullivan’s office today at 434-924-3337 – while the well being of students and workers alike hangs precariously in the balance.”