Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Swarthmore College Living Wage and Democracy Campaign

The Path to a Living Wage

Page Currently Under Construction (95% Complete)

Dedication: to the Staff, Students and Faculty who came together to advocate for a living wage at Swarthmore College.

At the start of the Campaign  in 2000, I began to save documents, pictures, newspaper clippings and flyers, which now reside in nine, 3-inch notebooks that hold over thirty years of Swarthmore labor history. Many of those materials appear on this web page. For members of the Campaign reading this history, please let me know if you have pictures or other documents you believe should be included.  I may have missed some articles and letters to the editor–there were many!

Rally Song 2002

Official Campaign Website
1970-1993 Short History of Labor Conditions and Organizing Efforts at Swarthmore

From Thompson Bradley, Professor Emeritus of Russian

1980: Women’s Concerns Committee established primarily to consider providing day care to children of employees. (Committee disbanded in 2002; despite initial funding, Day care center recommendations not implemented.)

  • Article:  Inquirer, “College Plans Day-care Center,” by Gloria A. Hoffner, September 15, 1988.
  • WCC Report Daycare 1991Women’s Concerns Committee Study on Child Care, August, 1991.
  • Article: Campus Staff Child Care Initiative Gains Momentum, Janine Gibbons, Phoenix, April 17,1998.
1991-1993 Pre-Living Wage History

Fall 1991.  The Ad Hoc Salary Concerns Committee, nine administrative assistants from various College departments, is formed.  The Committee established the following goals: “understanding current personnel policies and practices as they relate to secretarial compensation, facilitating the communication of these policies and practices to secretarial support staff and their supervisors, and establishing a forum in which secretarial compensation issues may be raised and addressed. The Committee works on outreach with other administrative assistants and discusses its concerns with the College administration.”

October 1996. Administrative assistants, several of whom had been involved in the earlier Ad Hoc Salary Concerns Committee, work together to draft a list of concerns and proposals about salary and grievance procedures.

November 1996. A series of articles, letters and editorials about the faculty-only lounge in Kohlberg Hall appears in the Phoenix. Some students, staff, and faculty are concerned that the exclusivity of the lounge both indicates and encourages unjustified inequalities in policies and practices as they relate to College’s employees.

  • Article: Phoenix, November 11, 1996 “Faculty-Only Lounge Raises Questions–Underused Lounge does not allow for Staff use or Faculty-staff Interaction” by Janice Gallagher. Faculty Lounge 11.16.96
  • Editorial: Phoenix, November 15, 1996 “Eliminate Class Inequity at the College,” by Kae Kalwaic. Faculty Lounge Letter 11.15.96
    Update, Faculty Lounge: the lounge was never used much, and eventually the space was converted into offices.

February 1997.  The AAs and supporters attend a follow-up meeting with Jennie Keith and Barbara Carroll. The administration agrees to publish salary schedules, resolving one of the four concerns presented by the AAs. The salary schedules now appear both in printed form and on the web. May 15, 1997.  A subgroup of the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee sends a letter to Al Bloom concerning problems created by inequality of voice in decision-making processes at Swarthmore College.

Spring 1997. The representation structure of COSP (the staff issues advisory board to President Bloom) changes. Staff is now represented geographically (e.g., staff in the east wing of Parrish elect a representative), except for Dining Services and Environmental Services, which continue to elect their own representatives. Fall 1997.

  • The newly structured COSP begins meeting and, at the request of staff members, begin to publish minutes for the first time.
  • In September the Student Labor Action Group sponsors a lecture by Linda Chavez Thompson, the executive vice-president of the AFL-CIO.
  • Fall Fest, a former staff only annual event, is eliminated. Some staff members were concerned that it was a token event that consumed too much of COSP’s time and energy.
  • At the request of some staff members, faculty is invited to the annual staff awards ceremony.
  • Michael Moore, November 19, speaks to a packed LPAC Cinema. He called upon colleges with such rich endowments to pay their staff better wages. The College Democrats had arranged this lecture, and Brendan Nyhan invited me to attend the dinner at the president’s house with Michael Moore. To my knowledge hourly employees are not invited these occasions with celebrities who dine with the president.  This may have been a first. (On a personal note, Michael was most gracious and when I had an opportunity to talk with him personally, he listened as I explained the low-wages at Swarthmore for dining hall and environmental services. He echoed these sentiments in his lecture.)

January 1998. The College’s Long Range Planning Committee announces that its subcommittees, including SLRPC, held individual open meetings on January 30th.  The administrative assistants’ group, organized now into the “Ad Hoc Staff Experience Committee” decides to 1) advertise the open meeting on “staffing,” and 2) submit written recommendations to the committee.

January 29, 1998.  A group of staff members known as the “Ad Hoc Staff Experience Committee” submitted an extensive list of questions and proposals concerning labor practices at Swarthmore to representatives of the Long Range Planning Committee’s subgroup on staff issues (SLRPC). This proposal is sent to the campus community and Board of Managers. The Ad Hoc Committee was initiated by a group of administrative assistants, who subsequently worked to build coalitions with other staff, faculty, and students in order to articulate the experiences and concerns of employees at Swarthmore.

  • Document: Bill of Rights signed by community members. Bill of Rights

January 30, 1998. Hicks 101 fills to overflowing with staff, students, and faculty open meeting. Most of the meeting focuses on concerns with the structure of the standing subcommittee itself; it is suggested that with only one non-exempt staff member the subcommittee can not effectively represent college employees’ interests in the long-range planning process.  SLRPC decides to hold a second Collection (in a larger room!) to address the many issues raised in the meeting. February 1998. Largely due to concerns raised in the January 30th meeting, Paul Aslanian asks COSP to appoint four of its members to SLRPC. Two exempt and two non-exempt staff members are chosen.

February 13, 1998. At the follow-up open meeting, the Hicks Mural Room is filled to overflowing with staff, students, and faculty. Al Bloom and Jennie Keith are in attendance. The Phoenix publishes a front-page article. Another meeting is scheduled for March 5th.

February 26, 1998. About 80 people, mostly staff, attend a joint meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee and COSP to discuss their respective roles in developing communication between staff and the administration.

March 1998. Nearly two hundred staff, faculty, and students attend the third SLRPC open meeting on March 5th. Seven breakout groups are formed, with the following focuses: governance issues; training, professional development, and career path issues; compensation and job classification issues; grievance issues; job expectations, performance evaluation, and links to compensation; diversity issues; and benefits issues. The purpose of the meeting is to develop a list of recommendations and/or questions in each of these focus areas to circulate among participants and submit to SLRPC. Later in the month, staff receive reports prepared by the facilitators of each breakout group. April 1998. SLRPC meets to begin putting together proposals for the College Planning Committee.

April 15, 1998.  Swarthmore students, Amy Dalton, David Reese, Amy Dickson, Rob McGreevey, Jessica McFarland, Janice Gallagher and Yonathan Dessalegn publish an independent newsletter:  Bulletin: Recent Developments in Staff Politics at Swarthmore College. Includes a summary of labor history to date: “Ad Hoc Committee Brings Staff Concerns to Light” written by Jessica McFarland ’98 Bulletin Staff Politics 4.98

December 10, 1999. Phoenix, “Staff Claims that Wages are Subpar” by Mara Hvistendahl. Wages Subpar 12.10.99

February 3, 2000. Phoenix, “Bearing the Burden: Staff Wages at Swat, Part 1″ by Sonia Scherr. Phoenix Burden P1 2.3.2000

February 10, 2000. Phoenix, “Bearing the Burden: Staff Wages at Swat, Part 2″ by Sonia Scherr. Phoenix Burden P2 2.10.00

April 20, 2000. Phoenix, “College Raises Wages for Hourly Staff” by Mara Hvistendahl. College Raises Wages 4.20.00

November 2, 2000. Phoenix, “Staff Wages Deserve Scrutiny,” by Sam Blair, Jacob Hodes, Vani Natarajan. November 2, 2000. Phoenix, “Staff want Resect, Internal Change in ES ,”  by Elizabeth Wright.

November 16, 2000. Phoenix, “Phoenix Editor, Sonai Scherr, wins Reporting Award on Bearing the Burden” by Mara Hvistendahl Phoenix Award Scherr 11.16.00

1999-2001 Voice in our Workplace Meetings In January of 1999 another administrative assistant from Bryn Mawr and myself organized the first staff-initiated Tri-College: A Voice in our Work Places. The purpose of the meeting was to have a venue in which staff  from Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore could raise and discuss common workplace concerns without the constraints of an administration-held event. Other meetings were held: May 26, 1990 at Bryn Mawr, April 14, 2000 at Haverford, April 12, 2001 at Swarthmore, May 6, 2002 at Bryn Mawr.

Fall 2000: Beginning of the Campaign

Student members of Conscious Consumers decide to spend time interviewing Swarthmore College staff members about their primary challenges as College employees.  The responses from hourly-wage staff members overwhelmingly indicate that their primary concerns about their jobs are low wages, lack of respect from students and higher-paid staff, and lack of representation on College decision-making bodies. In order to address these issues, a small group of students and staff form the Swarthmore Living Wage and Democracy Campaign (SLW&DC). The Campaign begin to research the issue and investigate current wages at the College. The Campaign discovers the Women’s Association for Women’s Alternatives, a local group that does living wage research based on marker-basket surveys. Marker-basket surveys are surveys done in order to determine the real costs of necessities.  In a marker-basket survey, the researchers actually spend time buying foodstuffs and investigating the cost of local child care, etc.

One of the first tasks that we undertook was to determine what wages were currently being paid. According to the College website, the minimum hourly wage was $5.15.  Our survey of dining hall employees did not include the various positions, but what we did find out is that many were being paid less than a living wage.

Spring 2001

  • Community Gathering/Party: February 23, 2001, Kickoff of the Campaign
  • Document:  Where would the money for salary increases come from: Freq.__Asked_Questions_3
  • Letter: Swarthmore Friends Meeting sends support toward a living wage: Friends Meeting Support Letter
  • Article: Phoenix,“Push for Wages Changes Faces Unresponsiveness among some Staff,” March 8, 2001, by Lillie Dremeaux.

    Bonnie Peterson addresses Campaign Members

  • Petitions: We began an initiative to gather signatures for a petition to present to the president of the College, Al Bloom, to “express our concerns regarding the process by which employee wages and policies are determined.” Our two demands were: a Swarthmore wage should be a living wage and decision-making policies should reflect our committment to structural democracy based on Quaker process.   living_wage_petition  The SLW&DC  gathers over 1,000 signatures of students, staff, faculty, and community members.
  • Letter: Addressed to Al Bloom with submission of the petitions Letter_ABloom_with_Petition-1
  • Report from SCLWDC: Revised from February 2001; date April 23, 2001: Accumulation of five months of research on campus wage issues SCLWDC Report 4.23.01
  • Campaign Poster: References 1979 request from Sharples workers for a cost-of-living adjustment

May 2001 Harvard Living Wage Campaign Holds Sit-In for three weeks. Website. This sit-in received excellent publicity and furthered the living wage cause. Article in New York Times, “Harvard’s Heroes,” May 3, 2001. Their campaign won substantial raises and full healthcare benefits for more than 2000 service workers. One of the co-founders of the Harvard campaign was Aaron Bartley, a Swarthmore College alum.

Fall 2001

  • Document: Campaign publishes a salary schedule, explaining how the current schedule is determined. Before this time, hourly employees had little information regarding salaries. Understanding Salaries F01
  • Document:  November 19, 2001.  The Staff Compensation Review Committee makes its initial recommendations, the most significant of which are raising the minimum wage at the College from $6.66 to $9 an hour, and changes in benefits.  The SLW&DC writes a critical commentary on how the recommendations will affect low-wage workers, but receives no response.
  • Survey: November 30, 2001.  Campaign members distribute worker ballots.  The results prove that raising wages is a significant concern, marked by 72% of all respondents (58 out of 80).  Improving benefits came second at 53% (43 respondents).  Protecting job security was marked by 35%.
  • Article: Dissent Magazine, Fall 2001, written by Swarthmore Alum,Rachel Neumann. “Living Wage 101″

Spring 2002

  • Satirical News Flyer: Swonion, appears on campus. Five issues from January 2002-October 2002. Referenced in McCabe Rare Book Room LH1.S795.S96. Pokes fun at campus sacred cows. Swonion 2002
  • Article: Phoenix, April 4, 2002, “Satirical Newsletter Mocks Inequalities” by Mary Mintez. Phoenix, Swonion.4.4.2
  • Article: Swarthmore College Bulletin, “Just Compensation,” March 2002, by Alisa Giardinelli.
  • Letter to the Editor: Phoenix, Wage Increase doe not Cause Budget Cuts,” April 18, 2002 by Sam Blair. Phoenix Wage Increase Ed 4.18.02
  • Speaker: Barbara Prear, Housekeeper at the University of North Carolina and President of UE Local 150. Although no legal right to unionize, workers have been able to pressure their administration to negotiate improvements for the lowest-paid.

Rally on Parrish Lawn, April 4, 2002

On the National Student Labor Action Day, the SLW&DC holds a rally attended by 200 students, staff, and faculty. The date commemorates the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed in Memphis while supporting striking sanitation workers. “Keep on Movin’ Forward” was the theme of the rally, which applauded the decision to raise the College’s minimum wage to $9 an hour but stressed that more needs to be done. The Campaign calls for a Swarthmore living wage of $13 per hour.  Student and staff Campaign members speak, and other students perform cheers, spoken word poetry and songs.

  • Educational: April 24, 2002: The Campaign co-sponsors a “Race, Gender and the Living Wage” educational with Radical African Dissent (RAD), Swarthmore Black activist group.
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, April 25, 2002, “Student Advisory Group Members Resign,” by Sam Blair, Cathy Meals, Miriah Montgomery, Matt Rubin, Nate Wessler
  • ArticlePhoenix, April 25, 2002, “Student Advisory Group to CRC Resigns,” by Lillie Dremeaux
  • Film Screening: April 26, 2002: Aaron Bartley, a Swarthmore College alum and leader in the Harvard University Living Wage campaign, visits Swarthmore to screen the documentary “Occupation.”
  • Speaker: John Braxton ’70, “Strategic Alliances: Building a Campus-Community-Labor Coalition for Workplace and Social Justice,” May 3, 2002.
  • Action: May 3, 2002: Student members of the Living Wage Campaign interrupt the Board of Managers’ dinner for a three-minute “dessert break” where they ask for support and a place on the Board’s Fall 2002 agenda. Living wage “desserts” served to Board members consisted of chocolate mints elegantly attached to postcards written by staff, students, and faculty explaining their support for a living wage.
  • Meeting: May 15, 2002: SLW&DC members meet with College President Bloom to discuss the formation of the living wage study committee.
  • Document: Brochure from the Campaign Brochure_Living_Wage
  • Article: June 6, 2002, The Harvard Crimson by Sarah M. Seltzer, “Seen and Not Heard: Students Feel Cut out of Decision-Making.”

May 2002:  After a faculty straw vote in support of the goals of the SLW&DC, President Bloom creates thePresident’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Living Wage to determine what a Swarthmore living wage is. The Staff Compensation Review Committee, while explicitly stating that its intention was not toimplement or consider a living wage, recommends that the Swarthmore minimum wage be raised from $6.66 to$9 an hour.

Graduation 2002

When receiving their diplomas, Seniors supporting the living wage presented Al Bloom, the President, with either a loaf of bread or a rose as a sign of their continuing commitment to the achievement of a living wage for Swarthmore staff. The bread and roses gesture arose in January 1912 when textile workers in Lawrence, MA went on strike to protest a cut in their wages. The strike was successful, lasting just two days. Demands for a wage increase for the lowest-paid workers, overtime pay and a reduction of the working week were all met. The men and women who participated in the strike sang for “bread and roses,” bread representing basic needs and roses representing dignity.

Sam presents Al with Bread and Roses

Our banner hangs over the Graduation Reception

Close up on balcony reveals perpetratorsFall 2002

  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, October 3, 2002, “Economics behind Living Wage not so Simple,” by Al Bradbury
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, October 3, 2002, “Low Wage Workers Deserve Respect,” by Lillian Ray
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, October 3, 2002, “Investigate a Living Wage Fairly,” by Marissa Vahising/Kim Bussey
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, October 24, 2002, “LWDC Fosters Campus Democracy” by Hamza Wali, Environmental Services Technician.
  • Article: Phoenix, October 31, 2002, “Four Students Selected to Shape Living Wage Policies” by Julia Pompetti
  • Alumni Panel: On Economic Justice and Labor Issues, November 16. Paul Booth, Gerald Epstein, Michael Meeropol, Aurora Camacho deSchmidt; Stephanie introduces panelists:

Signed petitions displayed around the room

  • Pamphlet: What’s Popular Isn’t Always Right, Frequently Asked Questions
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, December 5, 2002, “Staff Rights over Student Conveniences,” by Lillian Ray/Al Bradbury

Spring 2003 

From the Collection of Susan Roth

From the Collection of Susan Roth

  • Report of the Ad Hoc Committee: February 4, 2003. Progress Report Ad Hoc 2.04
  • Article: Phoenix, February 27, “Ad Hoc Committee Seeks Input on living Wage Policy,” by Sue Chen.
  • Newsletter: First newsletter published by Campaign, “Labor of Love,” February 28, 2003. LaborofLove Newsletter 2.22.03
  • Letter: from Campaign to Ad Hoc Committee on Living Wage, April 22.Campaign’s position of wage figures and policies SCLW&DC Memo 4.24.2003
  • Thesis: Ginger Stevens, Senior Thesis, Hierarchy and Principles of Equality in the Staff Experience at an Elite Quaker School
  • Conference Participation: Racial Justice as Economic Justice, May 2003, Pendle Hill.

The Benefits Committee made an attempt to cut the Benefit Bank. The Campaign spearheaded resistance to those cuts. In April the HR Director announced to the Community that “we have become convinced that phasing it out is not wise at this time.”

The Campaign supported staff workers at Haverford College attempting to form a union in the Facilities Management Department at a rally of support. Unfortunately, the union drive was not successful.

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Fall 2003

  • Solidarity Trip: 13 Swarthmore students travel to Yale University to show support for striking employees. Harris Kornstein spoke onstate with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CN) and John Sweeney, President of AFL-CIO. Strike ends with raises.
  • Mailing: September 19, a letter with a packet of materials on the living wage is sent to each representative of the Board of Managers.
  • Article: Philadelphia Inquirer, October 9, 2003, “Local College Presidents’ Pay Soared” by James M. O’Neill. President Bloom’s salary rose 13% to $343,924.
  • Board of Managers October Meeting:  Private discussion on the living wage issue. Phoenix_Board Meeting10.03
  • Letter to the Editor: Phoenix, October 2, 2003, Student Council lauded for dedication to students, Ian Kysel, Nate Freed Wessler. Letter Editor Phoenix 10.2.03
  • Speaker: Bob Pollin, Co-Director of Political Economy Research Institute, speaks on Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy, October 3.

Spring 2004

Week of Action, February 23-28, 2004

  • F23. film screening: Occupation.  Harvard’s staff and students struggled for justice!
  •  F24.  4.15pm.  Tea Time with the Administration.  Informal discussion with members of the Senior Administration and the Campaign.  Tea & snacks will be served.
  • F25.  8-11pm.  Puppet-making & Rehearsal for Pageant.  Puppet workshop for Rally.
  • F26.  8-10pm.  Call-in & Letter-writing.
  • F27.  1.15pm.  LPAC Cinema. Collection lecture: Beth Shulman, Lawyer and author Beth Shulman speaks about her recent book, The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans and their Families.
  • F27.  Concert for a Living Wage with Kierstin Gray.

RALLY FOR A LIVING WAGE! with a Giant Puppet Pageant!, February 28, 2004

  • Article: Swarthmorean, “While the College Board Met, Students Protest for Higher Wages for Staff,” March 5, 2004. Rally 02.04 Swarthmorean
  • Article: Phoenix, “Students Hold Rally at Board Meeting,” March 4, 2004. Phoenix, 3.04.Rally

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  • Document: Debunking Myths of the Living Wage myth sheet
  • Report: Living Wage Three Years Later, January 2004  Livingwage-1
  • Report:  Ad Hoc Committee on the Living Wage   LWReport7.Feb04 Recommendations: The Swarthmore minimum wage should be $10.72/hour. Minority Recommendation: the Swarthmore minimum wage should be $13.89/hour. See pdf for full report.
  • Document: Campaign’s Position and Responses to the Recommendations of the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on LW, February 11, 2004.
Living Wage T-Shirt From the Collection of Susan Roth

Living Wage T-Shirt
From the Collection of Susan Roth

  • Article: Phoenix, February 12, 2004, “Board to consider new living wage proposal”
  • Article: Phoenix, February 19, 2004, “Swat not Alone in Wage Effort,” by Bree Bang-Jensen
  • Letter to the Editor, Phoenix, February 19, 2004, Opposition to Living Wage Elitist,” by Anna Perng
  • Letter to the Editor: Phoenix, March 4, 2004, “Actively Engage Living Wage Issue, by Elizabeth Buckner
  • Panel: Discussion on the Living Wage Proposal, March 19, 2004,  Featured Panelists: Sarah Willie – Associate Professor of Sociology and Ad Hoc Committee member, Sue Welsh – Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, Dan West – Vice President of Alumni, Development & Public Relation, Charles Grinstead – Professor of Mathematics, Kae Kalwaic – Administrative Assistant, Department of Education, Mariah Montgomery – Student ’04, Living Wage Campaign Member, Linda McDougall – Director of Dining Services
  • Article: Phoenix, March 25, 2004, “Living Wage Collection incites Controversy” by Christina Temes.
  • Survey: A professor asks a dining services employee if she believes that staff members really care about a livingwage. In response, she organizes an anonymous survey – the only action to effectively gauge opinion – which receives over 50 responses from dining services staff, all of which are positive. (April)
  • Letter to the Editor: Phoenix, April 1, 2004, “Living Wage Debate must Include Staff” by Harris Kornstein/Emily Wistar
  • Letter to the Editor: Phoenix, April 1, 2004, “Coverage Ignors Real Living Wage Issue” by Steve O’Connell, Economics Professor
  • Letter to the Editor: Phoenix, April 1, 2004, “Ad Hominem Criticism Unneeded” by Maurice Eldridge, VP.
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, April 8, 2004, “Critics’ Disrespect Inexcusable” by Mary Kassab/Dave Jonas, Catering Staff
  • Letter to the EditorPhoenix, April 8, 2004, “Comments Reflect Problematic Attitude” by Aurora Camacho de Schmidt
  • Editorial: Phoenix, April 22, 2004, Barry Schwartz, Toward a truly Compassionate Institution.

Chess Set with Cast of Characters

Fall 2004 President Bloom releases a proposal which he plans to bring to the Board of Managers, suggesting that the College only offer an increased healthcare benefit for family coverage. Later, upon discovering CHIP (a federally-subsidized state program offering health coverage to children of low-income workers), he amends his proposal to suggest that the College offer extended coverage for spouses only.

In response, faculty members draft their own proposal, calling for a wage increase to $10.72, and that the College cover employees’ family members who may not qualify for CHIP.

  • Pamphlet: If Swarthmore is one of the Richest Colleges in the Country, then why does it pay Poverty Wages? Why Pay Poverty Wages
  • Document:  SCLWDC Response to the Ad Hoc Committee Recommendations on the LW: LW positions on report edit
  • Article: Phoenix, September 9, 2004, “Living wage debate awaits resolution,” by Ben Oldfield.
  • Letter:  To Al Bloom, October 23, 2004 Letter_to_Al_10_23
  • Photograph: Specter of Economic Injustice haunts the Swarthmore Campus, the Campaign enlisted the help of this specter to raise awareness about economic inequality. More here.

Encounter

  • Panel: November 16, 2004, Hamza Wali, Marilyn Peterson, Michelle  Hartel, Ellen Ross, Maurice Eldrige, and Aaron Bartley, alum and Harvard labor organizer.
  • Letter: November, 2004, from Susan Roth to Al Bloom recommending that the College accept the Ad Hoc Committee’s comprehensive plan including health child care packages.  Roth, S. F04 Bloom

Rally, December 5, 2004

  • Article: Phoenix, December 2, 2004 Board votes to adopt Bloom’s proposal for higher wages.
  • Email: from Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the best-selling book, ‘Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America‘  “This week, I’m inspired by the students of Ukraine and the students at Swarthmore. As more and more people take the risk of standing up against injustice, the old order — based on hierarchy and force — will begin to crumble. Thank you, Swarthmore students, for providing an example to people everywhere by supporting a living wage on your campus… Your work for a living wage at Swarthmore gives me hope in these awful times!”
  • Article: DelCo Times on the Rally: DelCoTimes 12..5.4
  • Press Release from College: Swarthmore Board Approves Improvements in Staff Compensation, December 7, 2004. Swat News Release 12.7.4

Spring 2005

  • Article: Phoenix, March 3, 2005, “Bryn Mawr Starts Livng Wage Movement” by Rachel Scott.
  • Award: Julia Smith holding the Youth Activist of the Year Award presented to the students of the SCLWDC by the Peace Center of Delaware County. Award is hanging in McCabe, first floor.

  • Conference Participation: PHENND, February 25, 2005 Civic Engagement: Beyond Voting and Volunteering
  • Presentation: Campaign expresses appreciation. Artwork by Harris Kornstein/words by Si Kahn, Swarthmore Alum, from “People Like You.”Fighter
Post-Living Wage

Fall 2005

Spring 2006 Members of the Environmental Services Department and students unite with Service Works United to start the process of forming a union.

Fall 2006

Spring 2009

Frozen Landscape, Frozen Wages

Spring 2010

Upon his Retirement, Tribute to Hamza Wali, Staff Member on the Campaign, published in Overlaps, Swarthmore College Student Publication, 2010.  Hamza Tribute Overlaps 2010 Web and here on the web.

Fall 2010

Spring 2011

SCLWDC added to the Global Nonviolent Action Data Base, Kate Aronoff, 29/10/2011.

January 2013

Andrew Karas and Lorand Laskai, SLAP Picks Up on Former Groups’s Activism, Daily Gazette, January 30, 2013,

March 2013

Fall 2013

Video: SLAP Protests Proposed Annual Parking Fee, Andrew Karas, Daily Gazette, September 18, 2013.

Spring 2014

Collection 5.2.14 Opening to Opportunity Collection Invitation Proposal to Meet Staff and Faculty’s Child Care Needs at Swarthmore College sent to the College administration in May 2014.

Salary Information

Salary Schedules at Swarthmore College from 1998-2011. Swat Salary Schedules 1998-2011 Salary Schedule 2012-2013: Swarthmore_ 2012-2013_Grade Structure-1 Title and Pay Grades 2012-2013: Title_and_pay_grades_10_12 2013-2014 Salary Grade Structure

Comments on: "Swarthmore College Living Wage and Democracy Campaign" (6)

  1. [...] our years working on the  Swarthmore College Living Wage and Democracy Campaign we used many venues, such as panels, rallies and lectures to advance the cause of a living wage [...]

  2. [...] Action Project (SLAP!), which monitors wages since the College implemented increases since the Swarthmore College living wage campaign in 2005, sponsored the [...]

  3. [...] I was thinking hard. The chairs assumed the metaphor for power dynamics .  .  . and not just at Swarthmore! I thought about “Big Chair” people, folks that tell us what to do or think: [...]

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  5. […] Living Wage and Democracy’s campaign to raise the base wage, and documented that effort here.  That campaign resulted in a wage increase for the lowest-paid employees at the […]

  6. […] question and answer discussion, I talked with Teresa and introduced John. I invited her to come to Swarthmore College as I know the students would be inspired by her dedication to social justice. I never expected that […]

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