CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- At least two dozen graduate student workers at the University of Virginia say they haven’t been paid their December stipend, and this isn't the first time it's happened.

The United Campus Workers Union at UVA is demanding that the administration pay the workers immediately and stop the recurring problem altogether.

"It is such an act of flagrant disrespect and neglect for the university to miss wages at a time like this," said Crystal Luo, treasurer of the UVA union and a PhD candidate in History.

She said that just in the past year, there have been at least five instances during which someone hasn't been paid their monthly stipend.

"It has really eroded trust and has created more instability and insecurity for people who are not making enough in many cases to live comfortably in Charlottesville," Luo said.

Crystalina Peterson is a graduate student in the History Department who didn't get her stipend.

"This lack of pay, we don't have families we can fall back on, we don't have those fail-safes in place,” she said.

With not enough money to pay rent or get gas, she can't get to Grounds.

"We're not just getting an education here, we're actually doing things that benefit the university," Peterson said.

Graduate students serve as teaching and lab assistants, teach their own classes, grade assignments, do research, and even do administrative work.

"We make this university run, and have done so for decades under less than a livable wage," Luo said.

They said that most students don't have time to get another job and international students legally cannot.

"To leave your workers and students in such a situation is inexcusable for a school with the resources like UVA," Luo said.

Student Financial Services, the department that handles these stipends and payments, is closed through Jan. 1, which is when rent is due.

"This is a problem of the administration not putting in systems and fail-safes that would not allow this to happen. And this also not the first time they've been alerted to this problem clearly, and this is just a lack of prioritizing the very basic act of paying us on time," Luo said.

They are asking that the payments come in by Jan. 1, which they say is easy to do since the money is already set aside.

"Our goal, with some of the action we've been taking, is to draw attention to it, and request and require systemic change," Peterson said.  

Student Financial Services has not responded to a request for comment.