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Workers Union to submit letter of demands to BOG regarding state employee wages

UNC students hold placards in support of the UNC Houseekepers March & Rally at the Old Well on Oct. 28, 2022.

After months of activism on UNC's campus surrounding increased wages and free parking for University housekeepers, a list of demands is being brought to the UNC System Board of Governors. 

The updated demands focus on four main points. 

These include higher pay for graduate student and campus workers, affordable health care and free parking for both graduate students and campus workers, Trey Anthony, president of The Workers Union at UNC said.

The Workers Union at UNC has partnered with other chapters of UE-150 — an organization that advocates for the rights of public employees — to create the list of demands and continue fighting for the areas of focus across other schools in the UNC System. These schools include N.C. State University, UNC-Charlotte and others. 

The 10 demands — signed by The Campus and Graduate Workers of the UNC System — include the two initial requests that UNC-Chapel Hill housekeepers and campus workers have been organizing on since October: a $20/hr minimum wage and free parking. 

The updated demands also call for the current North Carolina collective bargaining ban to be lifted. 

“When we do face the Board of Governors, they have so much power to oversee all the campuses, that what we've discussed is wanting to make sure that we use that opportunity to make demands for housekeepers across the UNC campuses, other campus workers and grad students,” Nikhil Kothegal, a rank-and-file member of UNC-Chapel Hill's workers union, said. 

A group of chapter leaders and members met on Monday night to discuss the main issues, what content to include within the letter and steps moving forward. 

Alex Wall, a rank-and-file member of the N.C. State Workers Union said their chapter will look to UNC as an example this semester as they continue to fight for housekeeper rights at the university. 

“The UNC housekeepers got the state of North Carolina to change the pay scale for hourly workers and stuff,” they said. “And that's why UNC was able to change the pay rate for the housekeepers' rate. But, even though that pay scale is shifted for the entire state, N.C. State has not done that yet."

The purpose of submitting the demands letter to System leaders is to clearly state the demands of public university workers across North Carolina. The updated demands were curated over the past days and weeks to most accurately reflect what most workers need. 

Along with the demands listed, the group has called for transparency in written documents regarding raises and remaining staff shortages from the pandemic.

While the UE-150 has had a large impact on organizing activism over the past months, members of The Workers Union at UNC also accredited undergraduate groups, such as the Campus Y, the Black Student Movement and Siembra for their help. 

Union chapters and campus organizations will continue advocating for workers’ rights, Anthony said. But the timeline for when the demands will be met lies in the power of the BOG. 

“They're definitely listening. As far as a timeline, that's gonna depend a lot on them,” he said. 

Read the full demands here


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