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    Living Wages

Emma Davis knows the pain of not being able to give her children everything they need. She makes only $9.60 an hour as a University of Memphis custodian. In the past four years, she’s only had a raise of .38 an hour, but health insurance premiums jumped by more than 30 percent last year.  Read more of Emma’s story

But Emma and Workers Interfaith Network members like you know it doesn’t have to be this way. Employers can and should pay their workers a living wage – enough to meet their families’ basic needs. That’s why WIN is campaigning for a living wage for all University of Memphis workers. 

University of Memphis Living Wage Campaign

WIN began campaigning for a living wage at the University of Memphis in the fall of 2010, alongside the United Campus Workers union and the Progressive Student Alliance. Many service workers make significantly below a living wage.

But because you raised your voices, workers received their first pay raise in four years in July of 2011. With your continued action, we can make sure that the University of Memphis brings all its workers up to a living wage. Visit our take action page for the latest step you can take in the living wage campaign.

How Much is a Living Wage?

Workers and their allies are pressing the University to bring all workers up to at least $11.62 an hour. This figure is taken from a 2010 study by Dr. David Ciscel, “What is a Living Wage for Memphis?” The living wage amount varies depending on the number of children in the family, and whether one or two parents are working. In a family where two parents work and there are 2 children, the living wage is $11.62 an hour. The living wage covers basic necessities: food cooked at home, rent and utilities, transportation, child care, and health premium portions that workers must pay. 

WIN’s Living Wage Victories

The University of Memphis isn’t the first place WIN members have campaigned for a living wage. Thanks to your steadfast activism, the City of Memphis passed the first living wage ordinance in Tennessee history in 2006. It guarantees a living wage to full-time and temporary City workers, as well as workers on City service contracts.

In 2007, you convinced the Shelby County Commission to pass a similar living wage ordinance. 

Thousands of City and County workers now earn a living wage because of the action you took.

Take Action to Win Living Wages 

Check out our current action alerts, which frequently include living wage alerts. Use the box in the upper right corner of this page to sign up for our email updates from the front lines, and you'll be notified of times you can make a phone call, send an email, or join a rally for living wages. You can also help workers win a living wage by making a gift or volunteering with us.

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  • The members of Workers Interfaith Network – people just like you – have won living wages and fair working conditions with thousands of workers.
  • By speaking up and taking action, you can join us in advancing the rights of Mid-South workers.
  • Learn more about what our members have accomplished