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Arizona university workers demand thriving wage

Workers at the University of Arizona (UA) are demanding a large pay raise, to the tune of $25 an hour, by 2025. The United Campus Workers of Arizona (UCW), which also represents workers at Arizona State University (ASU), is calling for people to sign their petition to university administrators to implement a “dignified wage for ALL workers.”

The UCW petition clamored for the payment of “a thriving wage, not a poverty wage” for workers due to rising inflation, which led to “significant increases in housing costs, gas, and food expenses.” The petition also claimed that around 4,000 employees “are not making enough to survive in our communities” because 43% of UA workers make less than $25 an hour. Currently, the UA petition has gathered 579 signatures out of its goal of 800 signatures.

UCW’s petition directed towards ASU’s leadership echoed similar reasons, but went further in detail on the rising housing costs in the Phoenix metropolitan area by comparing apartment rental costs throughout the area. The ASU petition also claimed, “Underpaid ASU workers keep the lights on, keep campuses beautiful, support research output, and so much more” despite not having “enough money to meet basic needs.” The ASU petition collected 348 signatures out of its goal of 400 total signatures.

On UCW’s website, the organization’s mission is to unite “Arizona’s diverse public university workforce … to address the critical issues we all face” and “to champion and defend the interests and well-being of all university workers.”

However, the mission statement echoes rhetoric unrelated to labor issues, such as highlighting the need to “build and sustain social and economic justice in our workplaces and communities” and listing action items such as “dismantling white supremacist systems,” “naming and combatting misogyny, transphobia, religious bigotry, ableism [and] xenophobia.”

The UCW’s petitions are a part of a recent trend of strikes and pay raise demands at the university level, such as the graduate student strike at University of California and ongoing pay raise demands by University of Michigan graduate students.

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.