We are students, faculty, staff, and Oxford residents taking action to strengthen the local labor movement.
2. What is the labor movement?
Workers and their allies coming together in unions and community organizations to take action for economic and social justice in the workplace and in the communities where workers live.
3. What are local labor issues?
- Living Wages (The minimum hourly wage required for a single wage earner to meet the cost of living. Look at living wage calculations for Oxford.)
- Affordable healthcare
- Workplace Safety
- Right to Unionize
- Protection from harassment and discrimination in the workplace
4. Who are the people directly affected by these issues?
Employees of Miami University including:
- Classified Staff (staff in housing and dining, physical facilities, etc.) represented by the AFSCME union (Local 209)
- SATSS workers (clerical staff)
- Graduate Student Workers
Subcontract workers (though these people provide services for Miami, they are directly employed by a different company) including:
- Bus Drivers, employed by First Student
Employees of other Businesses and Institutions in and around Oxford
5. Why unions?
We have found that many students are unfamiliar with how unions work and why they exist. Essentially, a union allows workers to negotiate a job contract with their employers and then hold their employers accountable when the terms of that contract are broken. There are two major points here:
- Unions are the only way that workers can have a say in their wages, benefits, working conditions, and job requirements.
- Unions represent workers when they have believe that their rights have been violated.
**In workplaces with unions, workers tend to have higher wages and are more likely to have healthcare.**
6. But aren’t most people basically doing ok?
Actually, economic stratification is on the increase as the people on the top 10% get richer and everybody else sees their incomes stagnate or decline. Check out this graph of the federal minimum wage. As you can see, the buying power of the minimum wage has been DECLINING since the 1970s.
7. Why do students care about the labor movement? Here are some of our reasons:
- I am a student employee.
- I have friends or relatives employed by Miami University or by other Oxford-area companies
- As a student, I have benefited from the care and dedication that many Miami employees have for their jobs.
- I have worked in a low-wage job and experienced these issues firsthand.
- I grew up in a low-income family.
- Friends and relatives of mine have worked in low wage jobs.
- I have experienced dangerous working conditions, harassment, or discrimination in the workplace.
- Though I am in the middle class, I know that my economic position is not guaranteed because an unexpected job loss or major medical expense in my family could suddenly mean that I have no health care and cannot afford to complete my education.
- I know that when I graduate I might not be able to find a job in my field and I will need to live on low wages and may not have any healthcare.
- I have benefitted from the eight hour workday and the five day work week, both gains of the labor movement.
- I know what it feels like when I have no control over the decisions that govern my life.
- I know what it feels like when I try to make my voice heard, and no one listens.
- I have experienced class, race, gender, sexuality, age, or ability based oppression that has taught me the importance of taking collective action for justice.
- I have been active in other social and environmental movements and have realized the connections with the labor movement.