University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday the school will become the first to raise the on-campus minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“This is the right thing to do,” Napolitano said at a meeting in San Francisco. “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.”
The raise will benefit college employees who work more than 20 hours a week. It will also be applied to thousands of contractors working with the school. As The Sacramento Bee reports, the university has 195,000 employees throughout its 10 campuses and facilities. University officials, according to the Los Angeles Time, are estimating the move will cost about $14 million a year. According to the school, the costs associated with the wage increases will be covered by services like bookstores and food and not tuition.
In the past college faculty has supported raising the minimum wage for cities and states. Researchers on the Berkeley campus argued in a 2014 report that the end result of an increased minimum wage is more consumer power and less people in poverty.
The change will be gradual overtime starting with $13 an hour by October. By 2017 the plan is to have the college reach $15 an hour. Though UC is the first public university to go all the way to $15 an hour, it is not the first to go beyond what the federal government or state requires.
According to Inside Higher Ed, Duquesne University, Indiana University and Duke University among others have all previously raised their wages beyond what the law requires.
In large part to union support, the $15 minimum wage has gained a lot of positive attention. So far, though, only a few cities have passed it. Seattle led the way in 2014 by gradually increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The city was followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland. The cities, however, have already been seeing some problems. For instance, some businesses have had to close and nonprofits in Los Angeles are also reporting problems as well.
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