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    Living Wages

"With the money I make, it's impossible to make a living."
Community Members, University Workers, & Students win first step to Living Wage

If you've ever had a time when your paycheck wasn't enough to cover your bills, you have some idea of what Emma and her co-workers go through every month.

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Each morning, Emma arrives for work before 4:00 a.m. She and her co-workers make a long walk in the dark from the least expensive parking at the University to the buildings that they clean. Because Emma makes $9.60 an hour, she has to choose the cheapest parking even though it means an unsafe, lengthy walk to work.

Emma knows what it's like to have more month than she has money. The vast majority of workers at the University of Memphis went without any raise for four years.

"With the money we make, it's impossible to make a living. I really do not want to work a second job, but as a single parent I have to. You have to juggle bills. It is really hard. Something has to change,” Emma says. But she shouldn't have to work more than 40 hours a week just to make ends meet.

That's why WIN has joined with Emma and her union, the United Campus Workers, to press the University of Memphis to pay all its employees a living wage of $11.62 an hour.

For eight months, workers, students, and community members like you pressed both the University administration and the state legislature on the living wage issue. Because of this activism, in July 2011, workers won a raise of 3%, or $750 per year, which ever is greater.

Emma’s response to this news was, “God has heard my cries in prayer.” You can continue to be answer to Emma’s prayers by joining the struggle for a living wage. We will keep raising our voices until Emma and all her co-workers are paid a living wage of at least $11.62 an hour.

While winning a living wage at the University of Memphis won't be easy, WIN members are no stranger to living wage struggles. Our historic three-year campaign with the City of Memphis resulted in the City's first living wage ordinance, bringing thousands of municipal workers up to a living wage.

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  • The members of Workers Interfaith Network – people just like you – have won living wages and fair working conditions with thousands of workers.
  • By speaking up and taking action, you can join us in advancing the rights of Mid-South workers.
  • Learn more about what our members have accomplished