This Struggle Needs to End

By Laurel Loesser, Custodian

Each day, when cleaning various buildings of CU-Boulder, I see plaques with the Colorado Creed plastered all over campus, the third and final tenet of which says “Contribute to the greater good of this community.” Each day, I feel that the University is far from living the creed, because more than 500 of CU-Boulder’s workers are paid wages we can’t survive on.

When I’m working I try to keep my campus beautiful. I’m on the team that responds to emergencies, so when you have a leak or someone throws up in class, I’m the person who’s coming to fix what’s wrong. I take pride in knowing that I’m making classrooms a good environment for learning and the grounds a beautiful place to walk through. But when I think about whether my daughter could attend this school, I know that as a single mom I can’t afford it.

When you’re making about $11/hour and get paid once a month, your paycheck doesn’t last long. After paying rent and bills I’m usually broke by the 3rd of the month. I’ve had to use short term payday loans to get money for gas and use food pantries to feed my family. I don’t want to depend on others to support myself, but I just can’t get ahead.

I’ve worked full time at CU-Boulder for about 8 years, but recently I was accepted into a poverty alleviation program called Uprising. This program is trying to help me move into the middle class. I’m also in another program for home ownership, where my rent is locked in for 5 years. I’m uprising with the help of strangers. CU-Boulder has not and will not promote me, so I’m moving forward and going back to school.

This struggle needs to end. Contributing to the greater good of this community means paying workers a living wage. I believe that CU-Boulder cares about its students, faculty, staff and neighbors, as the Colorado Creed says. To me, that means valuing and investing in your workers so they can fully participate in the Boulder community, instead of worrying where their next meal is coming from.

Reprinted with permission from Colorado State Employees Fight for $15.

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