By Payal Goswami
The University of California system will be increasing minimum wages for its direct and service contract employees beginning this month, announced UC President Janet Napolitano in July. This change, however, will not affect most student workers.
This new measure states that only employees working 20 hours per week or more will be affected, and will be paid $15 per hour by 2017. Minimum wage for these workers will increase to $13 per hour on Oct. 1, 2015, $14 per hour on Oct. 1, 2016, and finally $15 per hour on Oct. 1, 2017.
“How we support our workers and their families impacts Californians who might never set foot on one of our campuses. This is the right thing to do — for our workers and their families, for our mission and values, and to enhance UC’s leadership role by becoming the first public university in the United States to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of 15 dollars,” said Napolitano in a press release.
However, employees who work less than 20 hours per week, will have their hourly pay remain at nine dollars until the end of the year, as the legal minimum wage for the entire state of California will be raised to ten dollars per hour on the first day of 2016.
“I feel like this is understandable. Other companies pay their employees for overtime, and this is essentially the same concept; if students put more effort into their job and work overtime then they should be compensated for that,” said Alexander Lee, a second-year student who works for the Middle Earth Housing Office.
While the new minimum wage policies may seem helpful, they serve no benefit to students. Students with work study are limited to working no more than 20 hours per week, which does not entitle them to receive the increases.
“I think this is very limiting to many students,” said first-year computer science major Saist Trucios-Perez. “If any work study student wants to work more than 20 hours per week, then they should be able to.”
Moreover, according to The University of California regent officials, this new change in minimum wage will add close to $14 million each year to a university payroll of more than $12 million. Many community members expressed their concern about the exact source of the extra income.
According to UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein in an press release, this cost increase will be paid for by “auxiliary enterprises,” such as parking garages, book stores, and medical centers.
Critics believe that the increase will result in even higher tuition rates, rendering the minimum wage increase redundant.
Kristen Olsen, the Republican leader in the California assembly, noted, “This isn’t Robin Hood — they’re not imposing higher costs on the rich, or even on taxpayers as a whole, to foot this bill. It’s directly charged to the students and their parents who use those auxiliary services, who are already going into debt to invest in their futures. That’s the wrong direction to take the UC system in.”
Students may not have to worry about higher tuition rates as a result of the wage raise, however. During a recent University of California budget meeting, university administrators agreed to keep in-state tuition as-is, but only after the state offered more revenue to cover other costs.
Furthermore, on May 14, 2015, Napolitano and California Governor Jerry Brown reached an agreement that current tuition rates will remain as they are now for the next two years.
On Nov. 19, 2015, a regents meeting will take place at UC San Francisco Mission Bay regarding tuition rates and any possible changes.