If you are a Notre Dame faculty member, sign our open letter!
Letter closed April 10th. Letter launched March 30th.
AN OPEN LETTER FROM NOTRE DAME FACULTY IN SUPPORT OF A JUST WAGE
Dear Notre Dame Administrators,
We, faculty members at the University of Notre Dame, write to you regarding the Raising the Standard Campaign’s (RSC) recent proposal “Recommending Compensation and Labor Policies That Reduce Economic Hardship.” We demand the university engage in good faith negotiations on this proposal and offer a public response regarding its decision.
As the largest employer in St. Joseph County, Notre Dame is a major driver of economic trends in the region, including both its successes and failures. In the spirit of this shared responsibility to ensure the future success of those who live here, the university has both a strategic motivation and moral obligation to ensure that residents of the community are able to support themselves financially. Yet, we fall short of this commitment.
The overall poverty rate in South Bend is 23.6% – nearly double the national average. A large percentage of that poverty is concentrated among Black households, with a poverty rate of 32.7%. In a meeting last August with South Bend civil rights leaders and community activists, a self-organized group of Notre Dame professors working under the name “Justice ND” asked what Notre Dame could do to alleviate poverty and racism in the community. The local leaders replied simply and earnestly: “Pay your staff a living wage.” Current wages paid to many non-professional staff have not met the threshold of a living wage and do not uphold the dignity of the worker.
Students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, also struggle with low wages from campus employment. Despite the university’s commitment to meet “all demonstrated financial need,” loans often constitute large portions of student aid packages and fail to consider the various other costs associated with campus life. As a result, low-income students find themselves working countless hours just to afford a visit home for break or a laptop for class. Their limited hours are forced to be spent working rather than investing in their studies or engaging with the campus community. The percentage of low-income respondents who say they “strongly disagree” with a sense of belonging at Notre Dame is nearly triple that of all other income brackets. On a campus where all should be included, financial barriers force some to the sideline.
The time is now for Notre Dame to reform its wage standards. We are recovering from a global pandemic that brought to light the importance of all workers and the many inequities existing within the labor market. As a global leader in Catholic Social Teaching who champions our commitment to equity and inclusion, Notre Dame can no longer allow the market to be the sole determiner of what we deem acceptable. We must instead follow the path of Pope Leo XIII “not to look upon [our] work people as [our] bondsmen, but to respect in every man his dignity as a person ennobled by Christian character.” Notre Dame must reclaim its Catholic ethos. Raising the standard of how we treat our workers is the first place to start.
Further details of the holistic RSC proposal can be found on their website. We ask that you show consideration for all members of our community and offer a timely response for action.
Yours in Notre Dame,