Univ. of California raising minimum wage to $15: University Of California Minimum Wage
Published: July 24, 2015
Univ. of California raising minimum wage to $15: University Of California Minimum Wage, The University of California system will raise the minimum wage for its employees and contract workers to $15 an hour, university officials announced on Wednesday, the latest in a string of recent victories for labor leaders here who have fought to increase workers’ pay.
The move comes after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to raise the minimum wage in unincorporated areas of the county to $15 an hour; the City of Los Angeles approved the same increase in May.
Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, said it would become the first public university system in the country to voluntarily raise the minimum wage as high as $15 an hour. “This is the right thing to do – for our workers and their families, for our mission and values, and to enhance U.C.’s leadership,” Ms. Napolitano, the former secretary of Homeland Security, said at a meeting of the school’s regents.
When the City of Los Angeles approved a higher minimum wage in May, officials hoped the move would pressure other governments to follow suit. Opponents said the increase would only drive businesses away to neighboring cities with less expensive labor. Santa Monica and West Hollywood are also now considering raising the minimum wage, though most of the county’s 88 cities have made no moves yet. The state minimum wage in California is set to increase to $10 an hour in 2016.
At the University of California’s 10 campuses, the minimum wage increase will be phased in over the next two years for about 3,200 employees, reaching $15 an hour in October 2017 for those who work at least 20 hours a week. Thousands of people working for contractors will also be paid at least the same rate.
Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest employee union at the university, said that outside contractors had been underpaid for years at the university system.
“The measure today will address some of the problems those contractors face, but not all of them,” he said. “It’s encouraging. But it’s certainly not something where people should be dancing in the streets.”
Officials estimated that the wage increases would add about $14 million a year to a total university payroll of more than $12 billion. Dianne Klein, a University of California system spokeswoman, said the cost increase would be paid for by “auxiliary enterprises” like parking garages, book stores and medical centers, and would not come from tuition or state tax dollars.
But that assurance did not satisfy critics, who said that the cost would ultimately be borne by students, who have already seen repeated tuition increases in recent years.
The announcement of the wage increase came on the heels of another budget fight, in which University of California administrators agreed to keep in-state tuition flat only once the state offered more revenue to cover other costs.
Kristin Olsen, the Republican leader in the California Assembly, said now was not the time take on an additional cost, when the system was struggling to fund its core mission of educating students in California at an affordable rate.
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