Loyola Marymount Workers Win Increased Minimum Wage

A guest contribution from CLN Member Anna Harrison

On March 30, 2022, corresponding with Loyola Marymount University’s annual Cesar Chavez Day, when Facilities Management [FM] workers are feted with a free meal and an Interfaith Prayer Service acknowledges their labor, an anonymous group of FM workers distributed an open letter. It read, in part, “It is a great blessing to enjoy a plate of food today, but many Facilities Management workers do not know how they are going to provide their families with food for the rest of the year.” Urging a recollection of the principles of the University’s founding religious — the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, and the Jesuits — the letter pleaded for an increase to $21.00 of LMU’s minimum wage, echoing a cry that LMU’s administration had long dismissed, urging dissatisfied workers to find employment elsewhere.

Workers anchored in Catholic tradition — and familiar with the Catholic Social Teaching that our University purports to champion — insisted “Whatever you do to others, you do to me.” When University executives tried to appease the workers with a raise to $19 an hour, the second of two protest marches took place during a meeting of our Board of Trustees. LMU FM Solidarity, an ad hoc group of students, staff, and faculty held aloft signs — “You can’t celebrate Cesar Chavez and underpay your workers”; “Jesuits for Justice”— and a collaboratively composed letter instructed the University that “Our Jesuit commitment to social justice means we have a special obligation to the poor. Even with the recent wage increase, far too many of our Facilities Management workers — the majority of whom are people of color and many of whom are recent immigrants — will remain among America’s working poor…. We … reaffirm our commitment to standing with those most in need, insisting that LMU’s stated commitment to social justice demands a just minimum wage of $21.00.” Protest marches, a petition, open letters, a social media campaign, and stickers that covered the campus were successful: in April 2023, LMU FM workers’ minimum wage was increased from $16.00 to $21.00.

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