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FAMU workers call attention to poverty-level wages

Members of Local 3343 hold an informational picket outside the Florida A&M University campus. (Photo credit: AFSCME Florida)
FAMU workers call attention to poverty-level wages
By AFSCME Staff ·
FAMU workers call attention to poverty-level wages
Andre Crumity, president of AFSCME Local 3343

AFSCME President Lee Saunders called on members to “keep fighting for civil rights, voting rights and workers’ rights” as the nation commemorates Black History Month. Members of Local 3343 (AFSCME Florida) put those words into action by standing up against wages that are so low that some of them qualify for food stamps and needs-based assistance.

The members, who work at Florida A&M University (FAMU), the state’s only public historically Black university, held an informational picket on Feb. 1 outside FAMU’s campus to raise awareness of their poverty-level wages. Members were joined by elected officials, students, community and labor allies in their “call for justice.”  

“On the first day of Black History Month, we are here protesting because African American workers at a historic HBCU are suffering a grave economic injustice and callous disregard from management,” said Jason Finley, Local 3343’s vice president and a program assistant at the school for 10 years. 

“You know these are not teenagers working at a McDonald’s,” said Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter. “These are professionals who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and paid accordingly.”

“Wages have been practically frozen for most of us for 10 years,” said AFSCME Local 3343 President Andre Crumity, a fiscal assistant who has worked at FAMU for 15 years.

The local is comprised of approximately 400 custodial, building maintenance, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, parking, dispatcher and professional and clerical positions, many of whom have been deemed “essential” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Members held signs and chanted about the need for economic justice. Many pointed out that last year FAMU President Larry Robinson’s salary increased from $385,000 to about $419,650. This is in sharp contrast to the university’s latest offer to its workers – minimal pay raises for only 21 employees in AFSCME’s bargaining unit.

“We have to bring awareness to what is happening on our campus,” said Crumity. “For far too long we have not been recognized – only through lip service, but never through action. We have to demonstrate why we believe that this administration has not been fair to its employees. We want results.”

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