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Leaders push wage campaign

Maddie Hanna | Thursday, February 16, 2006

After leaders of the Campus Labor Action Project (CLAP) delivered a comprehensive presentation on the group’s living wage campaign to Student Senate Wednesday, senators responded by unanimously passing two related resolutions – one based on policy, the other on ideology.

CLAP members said they want University President Father John Jenkins to issue a public statement in support of a living wage – ideally, the group will push for a $12.10 per hour rate – and form a task force to investigate issues surrounding this change by the end of this year.

The Senate resolutions were designed to support these ends. Entitled “Expressing the Will of the Student Body for the Implementation of a Living Wage” and “Supporting the Creation of a Living Wage Joint Task Force,” both resolutions are products of the University Affairs committee.

The resolution promoting the implementation of a living wage at Notre Dame is ideological in nature and goes to the heart of CLAP’s campaign, comparing national and Notre Dame statistics – the typical starting full-time employment wage as a Notre Dame staff member is $6.45 to $10.17 per hour, while the wage threshold for federal benefits is $12.10 per hour – and stressing Catholic social teaching.

It’s important that “Notre Dame as a Catholic institution strives to exemplify Catholic teaching, which states that all workers have the ‘right to a wage determined by the criterion of justice’ (‘Pacem in Terris’),” the resolution reads.

Catholic social teaching is more significant than ever at Notre Dame given the current campus atmosphere and Jenkins’ emphasis on Catholic character, CLAP member Jackie Clark said.

“It’s important here to address problems in our own community,” she said. “Notre Dame can afford a living wage.”

She quoted one of the more than 100 Notre Dame staff members CLAP has spoken to in its research, a worker who expressed feelings of alienation from the community.

“‘We’re not part of the family. We’re brought out to clean, and otherwise pushed aside,'” Clark said.

CLAP member Nick Krafft said until the University improves its labor practices, it will not be true to its Catholic mission.

“As a Catholic university, we claim to uphold our Catholic character … [but] there’s a discrepancy,” he said.

The second resolution urged the creation of a University task force composed of administrators, students, workers and faculty to “examine campus labor practices and implement a just employment policy.”

While detail-oriented senators questioned certain parts of CLAP’s proposal – numbers, budgetary aspects and future implications – student body president Dave Baron said he fully supported taking an active role in the campaign.

“I think it is wholly in our interest to look at workers’ rights,” Baron said. “It’s completely within out duty and our responsibility.”

In other Senate news:

u Senators formally passed a resolution in support of a report to improve campus athletic grounds and facilities, a topic discussed at last week’s meeting.

The report was a joint project between Senate’s Residence Life committee and the Campus Life Council’s Task Force on Campus Grounds and Structures. It passed in CLC on Monday and will be sent to Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman for consideration.

u Baron said he met with director of Student Activities Brian Coughlin, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs G. David Moss and director of Ticket Operations Josh Berlo to discuss problems with bowl game ticket distribution.

Next year, a swipe-card system will be used to distribute bowl game tickets, Baron said.

u The Hesburgh Library will be open 24 hours a day during the week before spring break, as a result of a resolution put into motion by the Academic Affairs committee to increase the hours during peak study times. Senate passed the resolution Jan. 26.

u Junior Chris Hollon was sworn in as the new Stanford Hall senator, replacing former senator David Thaxton.

Hollon has served as student government parliamentarian since November. During last week’s meeting the Senate impeached Thaxton, since he is studying abroad this semester.