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Living Wage Activists at Mary Washington University Lock Down in VP's Office

On April 11th at 9 am, five students chained themselves together inside the office of Richard Hurley, Mary Washington University’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. They came to demand a living wage for University employees, and refused to leave for over two hours, until Mr. Hurley agreed to negotiate with them....

By 11:30, Aaron Samsel, student negiotator for the UMW Living Wage Campaign, and Hurley had reached an agreement on the establishment of a committee. Samsel was allowed to meet alone with the protestors in Hurley’s office. The activists discussed and agreed to the proposal, unlocked and left the office victorious, “lock-down equipment? in hand.... Read the full story!
On April 11th at 9 am, five students chained themselves together inside the office of Richard Hurley, Mary Washington University’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. They came to demand a living wage for University employees, and refused to leave for over two hours, until Mr. Hurley agreed to negotiate with them.

Hurley initially refused to meet with the protestors. “I encourage you to do whatever you have to do to get them out of my office? he told police officers as he left for a meeting at 9:15. The police attempted to first move, and then unlock, the five students. But when they refused to stand on their own, it became obvious they could not be transported unless they were unlocked. The students encouraged police to ask Hurley to negotiate with them, and offered an alternative demand: that Hurley agree to set up a committee to investigate wages and working conditions, something he’s refused to do in the past.

At 10:15, with the protestors still locked down despite attempts by both police and a locksmith to unfasten them (their wrists were chained and the chains were bound inside long pieces of PVC pipe), Hurley agreed to meet with the students’ support person, Aaron Samsel.

As Samsel negotiated with Hurley, the locked-down students explained their position to somewhat supportive police officers inside Hurley’s office. Meanwhile, other supporters sat at a table outside the building encouraging students to attend a noon Living Wage rally. Organizers cite President Anderson’s $250,000 salary and the recent purchase of a $150,000 van for the board of visitors as evidence that Mary Washington has the money to pay workers a living wage.

By 11:30, Samsel and Hurley had reached an agreement on the establishment of a committee. Samsel was allowed to meet alone with the protestors in Hurley’s office. The activists discussed and agreed to the proposal, unlocked and left the office victorious, “lock-down equipment? in hand.

About 50 people attended the noon rally where energized Living Wage activists pledged to continue their work until every worker receives a living wage.

Once again, a small group of determined organizers taking nonviolent, direct action has moved a college campus one step closer to justice. Thanks, Mary Washington Living Wage Campaign!