In response to pressure from union and community members, University of Memphis President M. David Rudd emailed all campus workers on Tuesday announcing a commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour effective June 5, 2021. The lowest paid workers who will see a raise include custodians and other physical plant workers who have been on the front lines of keeping campus open and clean during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We have been working on this since 2017 and it's finally here," said Doris Brooks-Conley and Thelma Jean Rimmer, long-time custodians and leaders in CWA's United Campus Workers-CWA Local 3865. "I'm so overwhelmed, I don't have words; I'm glad for my coworkers and all they have gone through and never gave up."
Meghan Cullen, UCW-CWA Local 3865 Vice President of the University of Memphis Chapter, said, "Over the past three years, the University community has made a point to demand economic justice for its lowest paid workers. In addition to the tremendous advocacy by the union, the Faculty and Staff Senate called for a raise to a $15 per hour minimum wage in a joint resolution in 2018. I am grateful that the University's administration has heard our demand and taken action."
The announcement comes as front line workers all over the country are calling for hazard pay due to increased health and safety risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Campus workers and community supporters celebrated the news and will be watching for President Rudd to uphold his word and enact the raise in June.
CWA Campus Workers rally in 2019 for a $15 minimum wage at the University of Memphis. (Photo Credit: Andrea Morales)