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April 11, 2006

UVM students protest for livable wage

By ALEX MARTIN, Channel 3 News

BURLINGTON, VT -- UVM students had another rally Tuesday in support of making sure all university employees are paid fairly.

"I'm here principally because I want to provide support for the students and for the movement to ensure that the whole university community has a livable wage," said David Shiman, President of the United Academics Union at UVM.

On Monday, students entered the office of the President and demanded to take it over in protest.

"I will be the first to support them having a speak out on the green, or a rally, or whatever. I will also not be supportive of any action which crosses the line. They stated they had a wish to occupy the wing... we're not going to accept that," said Dr. John Bramley, UVM Provost.

The students left on their own accord and instead decided to create a tent city and hold a rally on the main green on campus Tuesday.

"Yesterday was a busy day. It was a lot of work. Yesterday was proof that our organization can sustain setbacks, as well as know how to keep going and endure our past," said Katherine Nopper, a freshman at UVM.

The university says the students are free to express themselves, but that the living wage notion is not the best way of determining employee compensation.

"We don't really accept the concept of a livable wage because it really doesn't look at a cohesive and holistic approach around benefits and tuition remission and all the other things that we do for our employees," continued Bramley.

The students aren't so sure.

"So far, they've listened to us in meetings, but they haven't made any sort of recognition... formal recognition of our actions. And at this point we're very disgruntled because we don't feel like we're getting any respect either," continued Nopper.

The administration says it's actively working with the students and employee unions to make sure that everyone is fairly compensated.

"I actually think we've done a tremendous job of being, frankly, one of the best employers in the state. And I think we're recognized as that," concluded Bramley.

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