The University of California system announcedin July a plan to increase the minimum wage of their employees to $15 an hour by Oct. 2017.
This plan will include primarily students who work more than 20 hours a week and contractors.
The UC system is California’s third largest employer, only falling short of the Federal and State Governments in California. If the UC system can do it, why can’t the California State University system?
Concerns of tuition or other core expenses being raised after the new plan is implemented have been communicated, but the UC has explained that the funds to increase wages will come from some of the self-sustaining businesses within the system, such as bookstores and dining services.
“Through its education, research and public service missions, the University of California’s students, faculty and staff have made us into a world-renowned institution, and our community does not exist in a vacuum,” said UC President Janet Napolitano said in a prepared statement. How we support our workers and their families impacts Californians who might never set foot on one of our campuses.”
The CSU system may not be as large of an employer, but it certainly has an impact on California’s economy. Listed in the 2014/15 CSU revenue report was a $237.4 million budget increase for operations, enrollment growth, and programs; in the fine print, employee compensation is included in operations.
So, if the UC system can do it on extra revenue alone, why can’t the CSU system do the same.
All California State Universities have bookstores and a cafeteria; most campuses have even more. Sonoma State University, in particular, has two restaurants, two cafes, a cafeteria, a bookstore and the Green Music Center.
The Green Music Center often holds sold-out shows, and Lobo’s is a popular restaurant. How hard would it be to redirect some of the revenue gainedinto employee wages? Even if the CSU as a whole can’t adopt a new system to raise wages, Sonoma State certainly could.
By giving the employees higher wages, they are given more power in the local economy. At $9 an hour, the current minimum wage in California, an employee working 20 hours a week would only make $720 a month before taxes. That doesn’t nearly cover average rent in Rohnert Park, let alone groceries.
Even though many employees are students who live on campus and don’t pay a monthly rent, they still need to be able to have enough funds to cover books, food and any tuition that isn’t covered by financial aid or loans.
The average student will spend roughly $500 a semester on books and anywhere between $3000 to $450 for tuition, depending on offered loans.
Even if the CSU just upper the wage to $12, $2 less than what the UC is doing, the employees working 20 a week would be making $960 a month before taxes.
That extra $240 a month could make the difference in getting the essential needs for school.
It would boost employee moral and also be beneficial for the CSU system to follow in the UC’s footsteps with this new wage program. Taking some of the revenue and putting it into the community would promote further economic growth.
It’s time the California State Universities step up to the plate and do what’s best for their employees.