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Working Hard and Hardly Paid: Interviews with Hourly Staff at a Catholic College By: Chelsea Gulling.

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Presentation on theme: "Working Hard and Hardly Paid: Interviews with Hourly Staff at a Catholic College By: Chelsea Gulling."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working Hard and Hardly Paid: Interviews with Hourly Staff at a Catholic College By: Chelsea Gulling

2 Introduction  Minimum Wage American minimum wage laws were implemented in 1938 Since 1997 the minimum wage has remained stationary at $5.15 National Poverty line: $16,600 for family of three  Living Wage The South Bend Living Wage for one adult and one child is $13.30 per hour Typical South Bend wages: Maintenance $15.97 Cleaning/Grounds $9.05 Office Support $11.67

3 Thesis  Through in-depth interviews of hourly staff at a Catholic College, this research will show how capitalistic idealism infiltrates all sects of society, in essence explaining the failure of Saint Mary’s College to implement a Living Wage policy.

4 Marx and Modern Labor  Karl Marx: The Communist Manifesto & Estranged Labour  Capitalism has brought about two classes who are in constant conflict: the proletariat workers and the bourgeoisie land owners.

5 Literature Review The Living Wage: A Review of Catholic Social Doctrine  Karl Marx dies 1883  Pope Leo XIII: Rerum Novarum (1891) “Let the working man and the employer make free arrangements, and, in particular let them agree freely to the wages; nevertheless there underlines a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice”.

6 Literature Review The Sociology of the Working Poor  Effect of childhood and education on low wage earnings Rubin (1976) Johnson (1997)  Community/Family support Edin and Lein (1997)  (Not) Making it Erenreich (2001) Mellow (1981)

7 Methods for Data Collection Research based on 12 in-depth interviews taken from Late October to Early November, All interviews were conducted at Saint Mary’s College. A “Snowball Sampling Method” was employed where two individuals acted as “gatekeepers”.

8 Methods for Data Collection Distribution of Saint Mary’s Hourly Workers Table 1: Gender and Job Distribution Among Total Hourly Wage Workers Table 2: Gender and Job Distribution among Hourly wage workers interviewed FemaleMaleTotal Building Services Attendant 426 Building Service Managerial 3-3 Maintenance-11 Administrative Assistant/Secretar y 2-2 Total9312 MaleFemaleTotal Maintenance11- Building Services Clerk/Secretary/Administrati ve assistant Staff Assistant Security Guard527 Security Dispatcher213 Bookstore/Campus Store134 Technicians4-4 Total

9 Findings A “Drama Life”  11/12 informants reported growing up in the Michiana area  9/12 informants grew up in a low income families  3 informants did not graduate high school, of the remaining 9, only 2 attending a two-year college “I grew up fast. I was the oldest and had to start cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry. [When] I got older, 13— 14, I was doing everything cause she [mom] was in and out of the hospital in the early spring. She would go in for about a week and then in the fall she would go in for another week. My dad was the only one who had any money”.

10 Findings “Overworked and Under Paid”  Nine informants were referred to college by friend or family member  All twelve informants appreciate Saint Mary’s College benefits but agree that they should be getting paid more  Heavy work load “I don’t want to make forty dollars more a month if when the new building comes we have to run on two people and pull people from where? Where? It’s gotta be balanced out”.

11 Findings “Overworked and Under Paid”  Motives for remaining employed at Saint Mary’s College:  Stability & Benefits “Saint Mary’s College wouldn’t go nowhere. It’s gonna be here all the time…you know what I’m saying, they’re not gonna close doors or anything like that”. “The pay is crap, but they’re the best benefits I’ve ever had”  Appreciation for College, Students and Hourly Colleagues “We’re proud of you seniors when you graduate. I know the we are not faculty members but we do care ‘cause when you go, we miss you”

12 Findings Intra-Community Support “ One of the security guards…she heard me say that [informant's colleague]’s been giving me a ride back and forth and she went to the security shack and she found two gas cards in her purse for $25 a piece and she gave them to us and said, ‘I know you guys can use these more than me’”  7 informants revealed a circumstance where another Saint Mary’s colleague showed selfless loyalty

13 Findings Inter-Community Support  The hourly staff members hold several large annual social functions to build community  Value of charity and service “We have a potluck three times a year. We have Thanksgiving and Mardi Gras. You bring a dish and then you go and we have a prayer, we give canned goods to the poor and then we go to Rainbow [lounge] and eat. Then we have like a 50/50 raffle where 50% goes to the winner and 50% goes to charity”

14 Findings “Barely Making It”  8/12 informants are in a financially unstable position.  Lack of Government support “The government trying to tell me that I made enough to support three people. Oh! I didn’t even qualify for food stamps. They told me I made too much. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry”.  Donation acceptance “I have some neighbors that were really cool about letting me go to their church…bread shower supplies, whatever…once in awhile I will do that”.

15 Discussion  Despite working at Saint Mary’s for many years, the hourly staff are living paycheck to paycheck and therefore, never have the opportunity to accumulate wealth, thus their impoverished position becomes a permanent state.  In this society which is driven by capitalistic idealism, the American dream is dead to low-wage workers. If a minimal standard of living is not able to be maintained in the present, thinking of future economic advancement is not a viable option and generational poverty is allowed to flourish.  Capitalism forces all American sects of society to dismiss a livable wage for its employees. However, given the Catholic Church’s role in the living wage movement, Saint Mary’s College should serve as a model for other American Institutions.

16 Questions??


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