On March 5-7th, the Ohio State Fight for $15 is seeking to accomplish something unprecedented. There will be a ballot initiative--Issue 1--up for vote in the Undergraduate Student Government election. Such an initiative, of any stripe, has never passed before.
We are calling upon the undergraduate student body of the Ohio State University to vote yes on Issue 1 in order to express the collective will of the more than 45,000 undergraduate students on our campus that waged employees deserve and need to make not only a minimum wage but a living one.
Tuition costs are going up; housing costs are going up; food costs are going up. It is becoming more and more difficult and more and more expensive to be an Ohio State student and to live in Columbus, OH. It seems only natural that wages should rise alongside these increased costs.
The primary objection people seem to have to our campaign is that it is simply unaffordable, unfortunately not possible. This concern is patently absurd in lieu of Ohio State's budget.
Leaving aside, for now, the 13 university employees who pocketed over a million dollars in salary last year--and the countless others who netted six figures--or the notorious $1.3 million clock tower that is nothing more than a glorified exercise in vanity, this school still has a lot of money.
According to their official website, the Ohio State University will be operating with a half a billion dollar surplus in their 2018 budget. That is a staggering amount of money that we will just not be using.
To put this into perspective vis-à-vis the Fight for $15, if the university had to pay 8,000 employees for 24 hours of work all 365 days of the year, without overtime pay, an increased wage of $15 (as opposed to the current minimum wage of $8.30, which some employees already make more than), they would still have roughly $30 million to spare.
Now, of course, this situation is absurd; it is quite literally not possible to work 24 hours a day every day. Delving further into the aforementioned financial summary report, we can see that the university employs roughly 18,000 waged employees (nearly 13,000 students and about 5,000 non-students).
Assuming Ohio State broke overtime pay legislation and was currently only paying all 18,000 of these employees the current minimum wage of $8.30 (which, again, is not the case), all 18,000 of them would still need to work 77 hour workweeks every single week of the year for the proposed wage increase to dip into non-surplus funds. During the Gilded age, the average manufacturing employee worked fewer than 65 hours a week, for perspective.
This also fails to take into account rules that disallow students from working no more than 28 hours a week for the university. Even if every student employee worked their maximum workweek every week of the year (including summer and other breaks), non-student employees would need to literally work between 26 and 27 hours a day, every single day of the year for the wage increase to dip into non-surplus funds. Again, this is obviously impossible.
The idea that this university can somehow not afford to pay their employees a living wage is, frankly, laughable. There is beyond more than enough extra money for us to pay workers what they deserve, what they have earned, what they need to survive and thrive as students or members of this community.
Vote 'yes' on Issue 1.