Student workers ask for wage increases

by Beacon Staff • October 18, 2006

Lauren Ottaviano, a sophomore writing, literature and publishing major who works in the C-Store at the Little Building (LB), said several student workers have expressed a desire for higher wages.,The dissatisfaction of student employees in the Little Building Convenience Store (C-Store) has reached a head this week, as several employees have drafted a letter of complaint in regards to rate of pay and schedule mix-ups.

Lauren Ottaviano, a sophomore writing, literature and publishing major who works in the C-Store at the Little Building (LB), said several student workers have expressed a desire for higher wages.

Ottaviano said the workers decided to file a complaint after hearing that all other Emerson employees get paid at least 75 cents more than the C-Store employees, who are paid $7 per hour.

Aramark Corporation manages the dining hall, the diner in The Max and both campus C-Stores. The company employs several students who work weekdays from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and all weekend shifts.

Aramark is a separate entity from the student employment of Emerson College, according to Daniel O'Driscoll, Assistant Director of Customer Service and Student Employment Coordinator.

"We do not hire anyone who works in the C-store, because Aramark owns it and we have nothing to do with their operation," O'Driscoll said.

Aramark officials were not immediately available for comment.

"It's so absurd that we stay up until 2 [a.m.] working," Ottaviano said. "We do a little more work than desk sitters, but they get paid more. So we are giving [Aramark] a letter and if they haven't responded in a week, I plan to go on strike."

Ottaviano wanted to give her employers time to respond to their demands before going on strike and forcing them to find temporary replacements in a short time.

Ken Parry, a sophomore film major, drafted the letter. Parry has been working at the C-Store since the second semester of his freshman year.

"It's not like the job is incredibly hard, but we work long hours and I'd like to be paid more, plain and simple," Parry said. "Everyone wants a bigger paycheck."

Parry said that if the problems are not addressed, he will quit.

"I haven't quit yet because I've been with the C-Store for a long time and I like the job," he said.

The letter acknowledges the benefits of C-Store employment and the frustration of making so little from such an enjoyable job.

"We realize that we're not asked to do a lot at the C-Store and we are paid at least the minimum wage in Massachusetts. With that being said, it is important to remember that we are college students and life in the city is expensive," the letter said.

The letter goes on talk about the fact that the employees enjoy their jobs and wished that this reaction wasn't necessary.

"My co-workers and I agree that although our efforts are appreciated most of the time, we feel as if it should be reflected more in our paychecks," the letter said.

"We're the workers who stay until 2 a.m. We're the workers who've been with you more than others. We're the workers who are Emerson students."

The authors plan to deliver the letter to Aramark offices today. They intend to give the company about a week to respond to their demands before taking further action.

The employees at the Piano Row Residence Hall C-Store do not have the same problems as their Little Building counterparts.

Melissa Newman-Evans, a sophomore writing, literature and publishing major who works in the Piano Row C-Store once a week, said she has had no problems with her employment.

"I heard someone talk about a strike, a student asked me, but I hadn't heard anything," Newman-Evans said. "I like the job, I can do homework late at night and the job is not obnoxious."

Newman-Evans said her salary was above the Massachusetts minimum wage at $8 an hour, a dollar more than Little Building employees, though both are owned by Aramark.