Just as Amazon announced that it would raise wages to a $15/hr minimum for all of its employees, Emory University announced that it would also be raising wages for graduate workers to $31,000 a year — the equivalent of $15 an hour for year-round, full-time work. The announcement of up to a 29% wage increase is the result of a national 2-year, high-profile national campaign by graduate workers demanding $15 an hour for all campus employees. Over this period they have rallied outside administrative offices, organized public support from undergraduate students and tenured faculty allies, and showed up at board meetings to make their demands heard.
The announcement also came just as graduate workers and faculty planned to join striking fast food and airport workers to demand elected officials support their demands for a union voice. Below is a statement from an Emory graduate worker with SEIU EmoryUnite!, Isaac Horwedel.
We are very excited Emory University has responded to our demands for a living wage for its graduate workers. This pay increase will mean the difference between making rent or not for me and many of my fellow workers, and is a step in the right direction toward improving working conditions on campus. We hope that Emory University will work with us to expand living wages to all campus employees.
Just two weeks ago, Brandeis University graduate workers won the first contract for any graduate workers union in the country since the 2015 labor board ruling that recognized their right to organize. While graduate workers at a number of institutions are working to negotiate first contracts, other universities, like Duke and Loyola Chicago, have refused to recognize graduate workers’ right to a union.