Nearly 16 years ago, Miami University workers went on strike. It was the first labor strike in Miami history, and it was not without reason. When one looks back on news articles published about the strike, they can find scathing criticisms of the hardships faced by the staff that keep our university running.
At that time, many Miami workers earned two to three dollars an hour less than other workers doing the same jobs at other universities, and around 20 percent of Miami employees received some form of public assistance. The State Employee Relations Board found the wages to be too low, and recommended a wage increase of 20 to 25 percent for Miami workers, which Miami rejected.
The strike brought students, faculty and Oxford residents together in solidarity with the staff, with many students joining the picket and many faculty cancelling classes or bringing their students to support the workers.
After two grueling weeks of striking without funds, the union agreed to a small economic gain – but a greater moral gain.
However, despite the protection of the union, many of the problems of yesterday still haunt Miami workers to this day. Wages are still low, many workers still must use public assistance, and understaffing contributes to worse working conditions.
As AFSCME Local 209 enters negotiations with Miami today, on Tuesday, April 30, we must, as a community, support our staff and send a message to Miami that we care about our workers and that they need to be compensated properly for keeping Miami “the most beautiful campus that ever there was.”