On May 1, we celebrate International Workers’ Day by recognizing the struggles of workers worldwide who continue to fight for fair wages, safe working conditions, and respect on the job. We mark this occasion by continuing our fight for timely and correct compensation for graduate workers at the University of Virginia.
In January, we started our #CutTheChecks campaign to demand action when the University of Virginia failed to pay over 100 graduate workers in December 2022. Our action forced UVa executive administrators to address not simply this instance of failing to pay workers their wages, but to commit to fixing a broken system that has repeatedly failed to pay graduate workers correctly, on time, every time.
In March, after months of silence from the Task Force, we released a letter signed by over 130 graduate workers demanding that UVa implement policies and commit financial and staffing resources to ensure that grad worker stipends, wages, and reimbursements be disbursed timely and correctly, every time. We called for the implementation of late penalties as a form of accountability for broken commitments to graduate workers who often live paycheck to paycheck due to UVa’s failure to pay all of its graduate workers a living wage. In early April, we brought these demands to Provost Baucom with another in-person delegation and a rally, where over 70 graduate workers and our allies testified to the stress and indignity of repeatedly being paid late.
The Task Force has committed to delivering its final report to Provost Baucom by May 4. In anticipation of this release, we reiterate our call for the Task Force, Provost Baucom, and UVa Executive Administrators to deliver the following outcomes:
- Implementing and enforcing a policy that reimbursements for travel and research expenses must be made within 30 days of the request being received, both for graduate students and for faculty/staff, or else it shall accrue late penalties;
- Implementing and enforcing a policy that internal grant funding must be disbursed within 24 hours of the date it was promised to the recipient in their award letter (or, in the case of standard fellowship funding, as promised by the published GSAS pay schedule), or else it shall accrue late penalties;
- Hiring of more Student Financial Services staff, in consultation with current SFS employees;
- Approving hiring lines such that all GSAS departments have enough Graduate and Financial Administrators to support their graduate student worker communities;
- Ensuring these positions are paid competitive, livable wages such that departments are able to recruit and retain talented staff employees.