UGA Union wins raise in base pay, Vows to Continue to Fight for Fair Wages

May 1, 2019  Building on years of prior work by the Economic Justice Coalition, efforts this year by United Campus Workers of Georgia and a coalition of community partners have resulted in real progress, as UGA President Gere Morehead announced a wage increase of about 2.8% for the institution’s lowest paid workers.

While UCW applauds these moves as a step in the right direction, UGA has a long way to go to bring wages to a more livable standard. Compared with the US inflation rate of 1.9% for 2018, the announced raise amounts to an increase this year of 1% in real wages, bringing the dollar total to $25,175, and below the poverty line for a family of four.

UGA also bowed to pressure after a year of graduate student organizing around issues of costly health insurance and poverty wage stipends. Increases include an across-the-board pay increase of 2% for graduate workers and an increase in UGA’s contribution to graduate students’ health insurance premiums. UCWGA made campaigns to tackle these issues a priority during the 2018-19 academic year.

“This announcement attests to the power of collective organizing through the union and also that there is still more to be done to address issues,” said Justin Simpson, a member of the Graduate Workers Organizing Committee of UCWGA. “At the same time it doesn’t address the other shortcomings such as the lack of dental insurance options, and the inadequacy of mental health coverage. Same for the increase in salary--it is not going to cause a person to not work a second or third job, so the ethical issues tied up with unfair wages are not addressed with this.”

The union sees more opportunities for raises in the budget, because UGA still plans to allocate funds for merit-only raises of 0-4% for employees--not cost of living raises. Throughout the legislative session, UCW members advocated for a “flat dollar raise,” where such merit pools would be redistributed evenly as cost of living raises for all campus employees, enacting a more fair raise system that tackles the rising cost of living, wage compression and pay equity while disconnecting pay raises from unfair evaluation systems.

“It’s positive news for the union. This is what happens when we organize,” Simpson said. UCWGA’s next step in the fight for fair raises is a Fair Wage Picnic happening today, May 1st, in celebration of International Workers Day. Everyone from the community is invited to attend the event, from 1-4pm, at UGA’s Legion Field. Food and entertainment will be provided.

Parking is available in the Hull Street deck.