Living Wage Coalition awards staff

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February 24, 2011

10:54 PM

Members of the College of William and Mary’s Living Wage Coalition, in conjunction with United Students Against Sweatshops, presented College Residence Life and Facilities Management workers with an award for their “10-year struggle for living wages,” yesterday.

USAS, an organization with 150 chapters nationwide, presents the award annually to groups who have shown courage and perseverance in their efforts to gain fair wages and respect in the workplace.

“I think that’s a really big deal because USAS is a national organization,” LWC member Katie Dalby ’11 said.

The organization first presented this solidarity award to three workers from the College at its national conference in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month on behalf of the wider William and Mary worker community.

Several LWC members attended the conference, where they met with other student groups to share ideas on how to strive toward greater workplace rights in their own communities.

“It’s really a space for students and workers from all over the country to come together to learn to unite effectively to produce changes on campus,” LWC member Maggie Russolello ’12 said.

The ceremony, held in the Sadler Center’s Chesapeake Room, featured an appreciation brunch and an opportunity for students and workers to voice their opinions.

“I think they felt really great about it. They seemed really energized and ready to go for the semester,” Russolello said.

Some students were slightly more critical, however.

“I think it was good to get workers out — I think it was one of the more positive things they’ve done in a while, considering worker turnout has been almost zero at a lot of these events,” LWC member Arthur Schechter said. “It’s not even really my own standpoint… we need more workers.”

Schechter cited the College’s strict employee regulations as one reason for the low turnout in the past.

“There are a lot of workers who get written up even for complaining. It’s understandable that the campaign has become alienating at this point for workers who don’t want to deal with it,” he said.

In addition to the award ceremony, the LWC has more events planned for the future, including a community forum featuring workers, students, professors and speakers from such groups as the NAACP, Student Environmental Action Coalition and Latin American Student Union.

“It’s going to be a really great opportunity for people all over the campus to come and speak on behalf of the Living Wage Campaign,” Dalby said.

Russolello said she is optimistic about the future of the LWC.

“We’re at a really cool point in the campaign,” she said.

“It’s really a space for students and workers from all over the country to come together to learn to unite effectively to produce changes on campus,” LWC member Maggie Russolello ’12 said.

The ceremony, held in the Sadler Center’s

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