SGA Advocates for Fair Wages At Eastern: SGA proposal aims to raise the wages of Eastern University’s essential personnel

National concern surrounding what constitutes a fair wage is an alarming issue across the United States. As the Student Government Association (SGA) consists of leaders advocating for change, they have acquired an in-depth understanding of how Eastern University operates. Due to this, it became clear to SGA members that there is a need to address the treatment of every member of the Eastern community. Eastern University’s SGA has provided a closer examination into this reality. 

Across the United States, the poverty line is identified as being $19,320 at the 50th percentile for a single person. “Some of the lowest-paid essential staff members, who are employed directly by Eastern, are paid approximately $12.60 an hour,” SGA shared. If these essential staff members worked a 40 hour week or full-time, their annual income is roughly $26,390. Following taxes, their annual income is roughly $22,520. Therefore, the take-home pay of these essential staff members is a measly $3,200 above the United States poverty line. According to the publicly available 990 forms that all nonprofits have to submit to the IRS, Eastern University’s revenue for 2019 was $80,183,384. In a social media statement written by Xeyah Martin, the SGA President, a call to action was put forth over the wages given to Eastern University’s essential service personnel. “Some of the challenges we will present include: An Eastern minimum wage of at least $15 an hour for staff. We have essential service personnel living way too close to the poverty line while working at an institution that garners more than $80 million per year and pays its executives in the hundreds of thousands,” Martin declared. 

SGA plans to actively advocate for increased incomes of essential staff members by starting with a security proposal to strengthen how student spaces are protected and secured. “The most significant way we protect students is with personnel,” SGA explained. National hiring shortages faced by U.S. businesses and institutions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have also impacted Eastern University. In addition to this, Eastern has faced hiring shortages prior to the pandemic which, some have theorized, is a result of the low wages being offered by the institution to potential employees. Currently, Eastern has three full-time openings and one part-time opening for essential staff employees. While Eastern has six public safety officers and one director, Cabrini’s public safety supervising team alone consists of seven people. In order to strengthen how student spaces are protected and secured, the security proposal involves raising wages to $15 an hour to help with the retaining and hiring of such vital positions. Following this, SGA plans on formally introducing an additional proposal in favor of increasing the minimum wage of all staff to at least $15 per hour. 

“We would like to reinforce the idea that all of us are more than just ‘students’ of this University. We are paying customers and stakeholders. We should be allowed to determine where our money is being spent and how,” SGA emphasized. 

Students with questions, ideas, or opportunities for partnership are welcome to reach out at sga@eastern.edu. Additionally, students can keep up with SGA and their proposals through Instagram.com/Eastern_SGA. In their Instagram bio, SGA’s linktr.ee account lists all of their current proposals. “We are here to listen to and serve our student body and I can definitively say this is a genuine conviction our Executive Board and all of our Senate members hold,” Martin stated.

Sources: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Economic Policy Institute 

“Essential personnel are the employees that students are interacting with and being cared for by the most. The essential personnel are the ones actively taking care of students and day-to-day operations, and it’s time we take care of them” Martin stated.

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