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Hunger Strikers in 4th Day - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hunger Strikers in 4th Day

Burlington, Vermont - April 27, 2007

"We're prepared to go until we win. We're in day 4... there's still 12 of us going from the first day, and we're very committed," said Sam Maron, a junior at the University of Vermont and participating in the hunger strike.

Committed to bringing a livable wage to all UVM employees. But the university says its attention is focused elsewhere.

"In this situation in particular, it really almost forces us to put the issue aside and focus almost exclusively on the health and well being of our students, which is our top priority," said Enrique Corredera, a university spokesperson.

But representatives from the union, who represents about 215 of the 250 UVM workers not making a livable wage, say that they support the students, and say a hunger strike is an effective form of social protest.

"Historically, we know that hunger strikes have been a very important protest measure that has been used obviously we know by Ghandi and certainly in the Civil Rights era, and we can't thank them enough for the sacrifices that they are making in basically being our voice," said Carmyn Stanko, head of Local Union 267.

But as an organization, Local Union 267, the union that represents service and maintenance workers, has had a voice, and just last year signed a new contract with the University. That contract left many workers under the livable wage of $13.62 an hour with benefits, and is in place for 2 more years.

Continued Corredera: "For as long we have to live within the constraints of collective bargaining and labor law, there really is no room at this time to make any changes to the contracts that we have in place."

And that fact will most likely lead to an impasse. With both sides standing firm, it is unclear what can be done to bridge the gap.

And that leaves the 12 hunger striking students, not the union, with the most to lose in the immediate future.

Said Stanko: "We may, not as individuals be on a hunger strike, but we've certainly been doing a lot of work since this unions been on this campus since 1999 to try and get the administration to listen to us about a livable wage. I think that people sacrifice in the way they can sacrifice."

The students on the hunger strike say that they are in good spirits, but have low energy levels. Medical professional from the University are monitoring the students health.

Alex Martin - WCAX News

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