The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



CLAP will hold forum to discuss living wage

Mary Kate Malone | Wednesday, April 19, 2006

As part of their ongoing pursuit of a living wage for campus workers, members of the Campus Labor Action Project (CLAP) will hold a forum tonight to discuss the economic benefits of increasing the hourly pay for workers on campus.

The forum, at 8 p.m. in the Montgomery Room of LaFortune, will feature economics professor Teresa Ghilarducci, who will speak on the economic feasibility of the University paying its employees a living wage – a practice Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford have already started.

“[The forum] will focus on how [the living wage] makes economic sense, both for workers and for employers and how economic research backs up the need for a living wage especially here at Notre Dame,” CLAP lead organizer Kamaria Porter said Tuesday.

Porter said members of CLAP and perhaps campus workers themselves will also speak at the forum.

“Our goal is to gain some more support and continue to persuade the University to consider adjusting the living wage,” she said.

On March 8, CLAP members delivered an 11-page report to top University administrators that called for Notre Dame to implement a $12.10 hourly wage for workers. The report also asked for the creation of a joint task force – made up of campus workers, students, administrators and possibly alumni – that would examine the issue from all sides.

Ghilarducci will focus her talk on two main goals of that report – the implementation of the living wage and the creation of a union neutrality clause, which is an open statement by an employer that promises no retaliation should workers decide to organize.

CLAP members met with University President Father John Jenkins and other University administrators to discuss their report on March 31, where they were told the living wage issue is between the University and its workers – not students, Porter said.

“Their position is that the University already pays a fair wage and they see benefits as wages,” Porter said. “[Administrators believe] the students don’t have a place in this discussion because there are already structures that deal with worker issues.”

Porter said the administration’s response did not discourage her group’s resolve.

“Our position is that these structures have failed … We’re trying to create a new space so that workers can have a voice through this task force,” Porter said. “The issue needs to be raised because people are working two jobs and are living in poverty and we can’t stand by and let that happen.”

Members of CLAP are scheduled to meet with Jenkins’ executive assistant Frances Shavers on Friday for a follow-up meeting.

“We are going to continue on this issue,” Porter said. “It is not closed for us, not even by a little bit.”