RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) — Each of the Eastern Kentucky University employees out at Powell Plaza on campus today had a story about how the school's hiring freeze or unchanged wages have impacted them. This group, the United Campus Workers of EKU, wants to see a change.
One junior, Jess Wilson, says she works several jobs on campus. She says they can be demanding, sometimes even calling her out of class. After all the work she puts in, she says she still can’t afford basics like gas or food.
She says, "I know that once I leave there's gonna be someone else taking my spot and they're gonna be in the same place as me and think I owe it to them and to everyone I work with now to try to make things better for all of us."
This group is mostly made up of educators and staff, some who have been here for more than a decade. One associate professor, Dr. Jerry Nachtwey, tells me that the hiring freeze that was announced at the end of the fall semester has had consequences impacting staff and students.
Nachtwey says, "When I hear these stories about different ways that their financial aid is getting to them or not getting to them, you know that it's being calculated differently, they're getting less financial aid, it's coming in later, they're having difficulty registering for classes. And it all comes back to, the people in those offices are working really hard. They don't have the support and resources that they need."
Dr. Nachtwey says a union is long overdue. Another senior lecturer, Michael A. J. Randolph says he feels other projects are being prioritized over improving wages and that's frustrating to him.
He says, "If all of us didn't like what we do, we'd be gone. And I’ve seen plenty of colleagues who have said, 'you know what, I’m tired of this. I can move on, get more money, get more respect'... because it gets overwhelming to think that you're putting in all this hard work, sweat and you're not appreciated for it."
Most of the employees have told me that they wouldn't be here if they didn't love what they do. Today they wanted to make their voices heard. They believe that coming together makes them stronger.
Jess Wilson says, "We're all working towards the same thing, and we all believe that change is possible for all of us and that we deserve better conditions."