FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — A union representing University of Arkansas staff and faculty is petitioning to increase wages for lower-tier employees.

AFSCME Local 965 held the University of Arkansas Living Wage Campaign rally Saturday afternoon on the plaza outside the Fayetteville Town Center. 

“The number one reason is so that the employees can have adequate food, shelter, clothing, and provide food for their families. Second of all, by increasing wages there will be less turnover,” said Michael Pierce, Vice President of AFSCME Local 965.

In a petition to Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, President Donald Bobbitt, and the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, it calls for:

1) All University of Arkansas at Fayetteville employees, including students, are paid a living wage ($30,000 per year or $14.42/hour).

2) All University of Arkansas at Fayetteville graduate teaching and research assistants (50% appointments) are paid at least $15,000 per year.

3) All University of Arkansas at Fayetteville subcontractors pay their employees at least $14.42/hour.

“The Board of Trustees has found $12 million to pay a coach not to work. If they can find that much money to pay one man not to work, they should be able to find money to pay living wages,” Pierce said. “The starting wage for University of Arkansas full-time employees is less than the starting wage at Walmart,”

The UA Board of Trustees released the following statement:

“Across the UA System we strive to provide competitive compensation to recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff. This includes not only salary but also a very competitive benefits package. We work to accomplish this while being good stewards of both taxpayer and tuition funds. It is critical for the state that we manage our resources wisely in order to accomplish our mission of providing high quality and affordable post secondary education opportunities for our students.”