Workers Interfaith Network needs your help in calling on President Shirley Raines to establish a living wage of at least $11.62 an hour for all University of Memphis employees. This figure is the living wage for a family with two children where both parents work full-time, according to the new 2010 edition of economist Dr. David Ciscel's What is a Living Wage for Memphis?
Many University of Memphis workers only earn minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour. This wage is significantly lower than a living wage and keeps many workers from being able to take care of their families' needs.
As one University of Memphis custodian says, "With the money we make, it's impossible to make a living. I really do not want to work a second job, but as a single parent I have to. You have to juggle bills. It is really hard. It has to change."
If you are a University of Memphis Alumni, please edit your letter to add this information and have a greater impact.
This living wage rate is based on figures for a family of four where both parents work full-time, from "What is a Living Wage for Memphis: 2010 Edition" by Dr. David Ciscel. The workers who keep the University clean, safe, and running smoothly should not find themselves locked in poverty because of low wages.
Because the University of Memphis has authored living wage studies in 1999 and 2002, it would be a positive example for the rest of the city’s employers if it implemented the living wage that these studies advocated. Students at more than 50 colleges and universities are running living wage campaigns in support of campus workers. The University of Memphis could be also an example to other universities if it guaranteed a living wage to its employees .
Aside from the benefits to the employee, a living wage also benefits the employer, by reducing turnover among workers. A study of the San Francisco airport found that annual turnover among security screeners fell from 95% to 19%, as their hourly wage rose from $6.45 to $10.00 an hour.
I look forward to hearing from you about how the University plans to make a living wage a reality for its employees.