UR is currently in the midst of difficult negotiations with its chapters of the Service Employees International Union over wages and health benefits. The union represents about 1,200 workers in various service capacities on both the River Campus and at the UR Medical Center.

According to the SEIU, the average salary of its UR workers is $24,000, barely above the Federal poverty level for a family of four. With over 500 SEIU households in the 19th Ward and surrounding areas, the wages paid to its service workers have a direct impact on the neighborhoods surrounding campus, a factor that sends a strong message to the greater community. UR is one of the city’s largest employers and has a responsibility to the community that supports it.

Perhaps equally as important is the message the administration is sending to its students. In an educational institution that aims to create tomorrow’s leaders, UR is setting a poor example of community leadership and loyalty to some of its hardest workers. The university encourages student involvement and service in the surrounding areas.

The most effective way to improve the community is by employing those willing to work and paying them a livable wage, thus showing care and concern for its hard-working employees and for the city.

At the same time, steps taken by the university show fiscal responsibility, which deserves recognition. UR expects the SEIU to manage its health care costs sensibly, working within a pre-determined budget. With health care costs proving to be a major challenge to all employers, excessive health care benefits could cause serious financial trouble to the university and cause further tuition increases.

The best way to attract and retain good workers is to provide livable wages and expedient promotions. A workforce with high morale is essential to the success of the university.

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