The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Employees deserve fair wages

The importance of a living wage


More than 10,000 workers at John Deere, an American company that manufactures equipment for agriculture, con-
construction and lawn care went on strike on Oct. 14 after their union was unable to negotiate a contract that met their needs. For over a week, John Deere workers have been on strike, taking a stand against disproportionate and unfair pay.

Despite hazardous conditions, John Deere workers have greatly contributed to the company’s financial success throughout the pandemic. But, they have not been fairly compensated for their efforts.

This is not simply a John Deere problem. Many workers, especially those in minimum wage positions such as retail and hospitality, have been underpaid for years, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the need for higher pay. Yet, CEOs still rake in large sums of money at the expense of their employees, some working in dangerous conditions, many not making enough money to survive.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has not gone up since 2009 even as the cost of living has increased. On average, prices of material items have risen by 23%. The cost of other goods and services has also increased dramatically, with rent and medical care rising by 39%. While some states have raised their minimum wages above the federal minimum, Pennsylvania’s sits at $7.25. In neighboring New Jersey, it’s $12 an hour. In Delaware, it’s $9.25.

Many of our fellow classmates at St. Joe’s who must work in order to sustain themselves face similar issues, struggling to receive a livable wage for their labor. According to the Office of Financial Aid, the minimum pay for Federal Work Study jobs is $8.50 an hour, only $1.25 more than the national minimum wage.

This is not sustainable for students who must support themselves. Taking into account the cost of gas, food, rent and other expenses, a wage of $8.50 an hour is unrealistic, and unfair, and the university must work to raise that wage for Federal Work Study employees.

It is also important for us to be cognizant of how the labor shortage and unfair pay affects others in our community. In 2019, members of the St. Joe’s housekeeping staff rallied for better wages. These valuable members of our community who work hard to ensure the cleanliness of our university deserve fair pay.

The jobs that they and other employees here do are essential to the fabric of our university, and it is their right to be compensated fairly.

When companies appear not to value their workers by failing to pay them livable wages, it is likely that employees will look elsewhere for employment. Companies need to pay their employees enough to survive and live with dignity if they want them to stay. St. Joe’s must take the same approach when negotiating with contract workers, and when setting wages for
Federal Work Study workers.

As a community with and for others, and in light of the various strikes at major U.S. companies, we must all be sensitive to these issues and advocate for fair wages. Social media is one tool for us to spread awareness about this issue. We can also call our lawmakers to share the importance of implementing higher wages and encourage support for this injustice.

We can also start here at home by demanding that the university address fair wages for its employees. And the university has an obligation to follow through, to put its money where its mission is.

The Hawk welcomes Letters to the Editor, typically no more than 300 words. They can be emailed to [email protected].

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