Local News

Author Of Controversial Book Attends Rally To Support UNC Workers

Posted September 23, 2003

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill raised a few eyebrows when its summer reading list included the book "Nickel and Dimed, Not Getting By in America." Tuesday, a group of campus workers used the book's theme to accuse the university of "nickel-and-diming" its own employees.

Once again, the book was generating controversy -- this time with the author on hand, attending a rally staged by local union in support of university employees.

Some UNC students and campus groups agree that the workers deserve better pay and working conditions.

Barbara Prear, a campus housekeeper for 13 years, said she holds down two full-time jobs.

"And it's not all about the nickel and dimes," she said. "It's the other stuff that comes with the nickel and dimes, the disrespect, the harrassment."

Barbara Ehrenreich wrote the book. She criticized university administrators, saying they do not comprehend the book's message even though incoming freshmen were asked to read it.

"The people who work here, who keep the grounds up, who do the food service, who do the clerical work, who maintain the buildings," Ehrenreich said. "These are the experts at being nickle-and -dimed."

UNC Chancellor James Moeser said he welcomes the open dialog. But he did not attend the rally because it was not sponsored by the university.

Moeser has formed a task force to address the issues raised by campus employees. That task force is expected to present its recommendations next month.

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