UC minimum wage will rise to $15 per hour in 2017

Michael Ball/File

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SAN FRANCISCO — The minimum wage for UC workers will rise to $15 within the next three years, announced UC President Janet Napolitano on Wednesday.

The plan, announced at the UC Board of Regents meeting, applies to all UC employees who work at least 20 hours a week. The minimum wage will rise to $13 an hour in October, $14 a year later and finally to $15 on Oct. 1, 2017.

“Our staff members also play a critical role in making the University of California a world-renowned institution,” Napolitano said at the meeting. “How we support our workers and their families impacts Californians who might never set foot on a UC campus.”

The university will also ensure that all contract workers are receiving at least the UC minimum wage, according to a UC press release. The university will establish a hotline and an online complaint system, and will carry out annual and spot audits of its contractors.

The plan is not designed to “supplant or minimize” the university’s contracting process, Napolitano said.

As the third-largest employer in the state, the UC system will be the first public university in the country to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of $15, according to Napolitano.

Criticism has been mounting around the university’s practice of hiring contract workers and its opposition to state Senate Bill 376, which would require the university to certify that contractors provide to its employees compensation and benefits parallel to those of UC employees.

Todd Stenhouse — spokesperson for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, a union that represents UC workers — said the plan is a “flawed, marginal step forward,” calling it “a symbolic gesture at best.”

Stenhouse said the plan does not do enough for the thousands of contract workers who do similar work compared with that of UC employees but still receive lower wages, with no benefits or security.

“The standard is equal pay for equal work, and the plan falls far short of that,” Stenhouse said.

At a press conference during a break in the meeting, Napolitano said the new policy has been considered for a while and is mainly in response to public comments from previous regents’ meetings.

“We have responsibility here to make sure our lowest-paid employees are earning a livable wage,” Napolitano said. “This is an issue not just for the University of California but also for the state, for the country.”

Representatives from the California Nurses Association, who were observing the meeting, chanted, “It starts now,” in reference to Napolitano announcing that the $15 minimum wage will start in 2017.

Kevin Sabo, acting president of the UC Student Association, called the increase a good step forward but said it is not as comprehensive as what many students were hoping for, as students working less than 20 hours a week will not be covered.

The university will cover most of the costs of the wage increase using revenue from services such as bookstores and food services, according to the press release.

The UC wage increase will surpass the current state and city minimum wages, currently set to be $10 and $11, respectively, by the start of 2016. It is in line with efforts across the country to raise the minimum wage to $15.

Contact Tianyi Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dong_tianyi.

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  • And guess who gets to pay for Lord Napolitano’s largesse?

    hmm… Taxpayers? Students?

    ding! ding! ding! Correct! you won the grand prize!

    • Nunya Beeswax

      i wouldn’t call it “largesse”–$15 per hour is scarcely enough to pay for rent and necessities in the Bay Area.

      I would like this move a lot more if it were coupled with a commitment to cutting out middle management positions. In the past 20 years, the total number of UC employees has grown 51%; the total number of management employees has grown 252%. That’s indefensible by any metric, and it’s that class of employee that is sucking up the lion’s share of compensation at UC. When the administration’s response to any problem (real or merely perceived) is to create another level of bureaucracy, this is where we end up.

      • Stuart

        Yes, it’s always the fault of “middle management.” State funds have fallen to a measly 10% of revenues for the university +- 1%. Who do you think pays for that belt-tightening? Everyone, including university management which makes salaries far less than comparable counterparts in places where, as you note about the Bay Area, expenses are quite high. Comparable privates, and even comparable publics, have far more staff for similar functions and pay them far better. But, yeah, I guess the answer is and has always been that these universities ought to run themselves, no management needed….

        • Nunya Beeswax

          Gosh, I didn’t realize Operational Excellence staff frequented this site.

  • lspanker

    How many of those people currently making minimum wage stand to still be around once (a) the personnel cuts necessary to balance the budget occur, and (b) a larger pool of more-qualified labor for those new $15/hour jobs becomes available because newly graduated millennials will decide some form of reasonable employment beats camping out on Mom’s couch for the next 5-10 years?

    • Gene Nelson

      Or maybe the less-qualified (and you are far from proving they exist) employers will be encouraged and motivated by the potential to make more money and learn more skills to become better qualified. Damn man, you are one negative person. Try to think a little more positively, huh?

      • lspanker

        I deal with the real world, not the utopianism of progressives.

        • Gene Nelson

          Wow. Must be sad going thru life always looking for and then finding negativity. Enjoy, Ebenezer.