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UGA Union Pushes for Free Employee Parking

Union members deliver a petition to UGA President Jere Morehead's office Dec. 21 calling for free parking for employees. Credit: Blake Aued

The United Campus Workers of Georgia union wants to make parking free for University of Georgia employees, some of whom pay up to $40 a month despite earning low wages.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that we have to pay to park for our jobs,” UCWGA co-chair Bryant Barnes told the police officer who answered the door at the Administration Building when a half-dozen union members tried to deliver a petition with 635 signatures to UGA President Jere Morehead on Wednesday.

Last month, union members were also denied entry when they tried to deliver a living wage petition to Morehead’s office calling for a wage floor of $20 an hour or $41,600 a year. UGA’s current minimum wage is $15.14 an hour, according to the UCWGA. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator, however, says a single person needs to make $15.89 to support themselves in Athens. For a family with two workers and one child, each parent needs to make at least $16.44. A single parent must make $29.14 to support one child.

While union members acknowledged that encouraging driving is not ideal given the threat of climate change, they said many workers simply have no other choice. Living near campus is increasingly unaffordable, and some employees must arrive at work before buses starts to run or immediately leave for a second job once their shift at UGA ends.