Rudd Increases Pay to $13 per hr; Workers Resolved that $15 per hr is their Goal

Memphis, TN -- after being found to have no written plan to pay employees $15 per hour, President Rudd made a surprising announcement to increase pay to $13 per hour by July 2020. However, union members of United Campus Workers say they are not giving up their fight for $15 per hour. "We are not done with this issue, not one bit," said Doris Brooks-Conley, a 19-year custodian who has been outspoken about her and her coworkers pay. "You have people who have been here for over a decade or more. This means people coming in the door would make what we make after 20 years of working. $15 per hour would have helped a lot more people. Meanwhile you have top administrators enjoying $15,000 to $25,000 raises per person. Why can't we have what we need?" she concluded.

The news of President Rudd's announcement comes on the heels of protests in 2019, Mayor Lee Harris' veto of county funds for UofM's swimming pool renovation, and a joint Staff and Faculty Senate resolution calling for $15 per hr. "I have been here for 5 years," said Sharon Gale, a third-shift custodian, "and I think it's a good thing because we've been asking for better pay for a long time. It's been really hard for me trying to keep up with bills and expenses. At the end of the day, we need the $15. I hope Dr. Rudd keeps his promise and we see it by the end of the year."

Members of United Campus workers say they have worked hard to push President Rudd to prioritize a living wage instead of just incremental raises. In 2019, UCW called for "No More Incremental Raises." Former Vice President of the union in Memphis, Jean Rimmer, has worked on campus as a custodian for 12 years: "We started speaking up for ourselves in 2014. So this is a long time coming. But if Christian Brothers can do it and not impact tuition, so can we. If the UT downtown, St. Jude and the County Government can do it, so can we. We care about our students, we care about the University, but if the cleaners are always last, that means our jobs will remain underpaid. Where is $15?"

United Campus Workers is calling for President Rudd to address whether or not this would prevent impacted employees from getting merit or cost of living raises this year. They are also calling on President Rudd to address issues of compression as part of his announcement.