More declarations of strike prove that feelings of restlessness and discontent are continuing to grow among FAMU employees who have been affected by payroll injustices.
On Tuesday at 9:15 p.m., members of the FAMU Writing Resource Center announced their decision to go on strike in response to the lack of financial compensation they have received for the entire spring semester.
“We’re confused, don’t know what to do, and our backs are against the wall,” said Kendra Mitchell, 27, an administrative assistant and professional tutor at the WRC. “Maybe we need to throw a temper tantrum. They can’t keep treating us like second-class citizens.”
After months of seeking a resolution, employees said the straw that broke the camel’s back fell Feb. 20.
After a Tuesday meeting with Timothy G. Wise, vice president of student affairs, Mitchell said, “I left the office knowing the same information that I already knew.”
Mitchell, who said she has not been paid for 222 hours and 73 minutes of work this semester, complained she was tired of hearing phrases like “I can speculate,” “it appears to be” and “it seems that” from administrators who were not forthcoming with answers. She said, “I feel like I’m getting prepared answers, and at this late stage they are trying to get us to sit quietly and wait.”
Charlynique Reynolds, 21, senior English student and WRC employee, shared similar sentiments.
“Why isn’t anybody doing anything about this?” the Miami native asked. “We are grown. Speak to us like we are adults. Don’t give us the runaround.”
The lack of steady communication between the staff and whom many people are referring to as “The Man” has been a source of added dissension.
“Dr. (Veronica) Yon does a good job keeping us informed of what’s going on, but no one ever wants to tell her anything,” said Anthony Ware, 22, a WRC employee from Temple Hills, Md.
He said the half-hearted attempt to communicate to affected employees was failing to settle employees’ frustrations.
“There comes a point when contracts have to be honored,” said Ware, a fifth-year pharmacy student. “Give us some answers!”
The WRC’s decision to go on strike begins in the midst of The Famuan’s highly publicized labor strike. “The Famuan started the dominoes, and we are following suit,” Reynolds said.
“We need to be united in our front because who is it going to be the next time they decide not to pay people?” said Phylicia Hill, 20, a junior political science student from Montgomery, Ala.
“It’s not about I. It’s about we. We are a family at FAMU, and to sit here and take this foolishness does not make any sense,” Reynolds continued.
Esther Spencer, 25, adjunct history professor and writing consultant, said the directors of the WRC, Veronica Yon and Faye Spencer-Maor, have been made aware of the situation.
“We have spoken to them and they are supportive of us,” Spencer said.
Although most of the WRC staff will be on strike not everyone has agreed to hop aboard the bandwagon. “We have a few students that are going to come to work,” Mitchell said. Last semester the WRC serviced approximately 3,423 students.
“We don’t want students to think we don’t love them and don’t care, but until they (the University) pay us, we are closed to the students,” Reynolds said.
Mitchell said this delay in pay has caused her to defer the American dream of owning her own home. “All I need is to prove that I have consistent income to buy a house,” she said. “I can’t go tell the realtor that one day I’m going to get paid.”
WRC employees said they felt it was a necessity to fight the powers that be.
“If I don’t pay my tuition on time, then they want to charge me a $100 late charge, but with paychecks being late I’m pretty sure I won’t see any extra return on that,” Ware said.
Employees pointed out that the love that administration claims to have for students is not enough.
“Just like any relationship you can tell me that you love me all you want, but where’s the evidence?” Mitchell asked. “I do have love for FAMU, but my love for FAMU don’t pay the bills.”
Many employees feel that a sincere apology from administration is in order for the entire University staff, which has played a large part in helping FAMU reach its past and present levels of success.
“You can never be the No. 1 black college without the people holding you up,” Mitchell said. “Every little bit helps. Whether they believe it or not they should be held accountable to us.”