UC president announces $15/hour minimum wage

University of California President Janet Napolitano announced today (July 22) that the minimum wage for its workers — both direct and service contract employees — will be raised to $15 an hour over the next three years.  In addition, she directed that all contractors doing business with UC comply with government and university workplace laws and policies.

The Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan, unveiled at today’s Board of Regents meeting, requires that all University of California employees hired to work at least 20 hours a week be paid at least $15 per hour over the course of the next three years. The mandated minimum will increase to $13 an hour on Oct. 1, 2015, to $14 an hour on Oct. 1, 2016, and to $15 an hour on Oct. 1, 2017. The California state minimum wage currently stands at $9 an hour, and is set to increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

“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,” Napolitano said. “And our community does not exist in a vacuum. 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.”

The University of California is the state’s third largest employer — behind the federal and state governments — with some 195,000 employees at its 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national labs, the Office of the President, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and other locations.

As part of the plan, the university also will institute stronger oversight of its contracts and sub-contracts, requiring that companies that provide services for UC pay their employees a wage that meets or exceeds UC’s new minimum wage. This requirement will be implemented as new service contracts are established and existing contracts come up for renewal.

In addition to these new policies, UC will expand its monitoring and compliance efforts related to service contractors’ wages and working conditions. This will include a new phone hotline and central online system for contract workers to report complaints and issues directly to the Office of the President.

The university will require that all UC contractors undergo an annual compensation audit to ensure they are paying their employees at a level at or above UC’s minimum wage and complying with all local, state, federal and UC workplace laws and policies. These audits would be funded by the contractors and implemented as new contracts are established and existing contracts come up for renewal. The university also plans to institute spot audits of its contractors to ensure their compliance.

Most of the cost associated with the wage increases will be covered by non-core funds such as those from self-supporting auxiliary services such as bookstores and food services. These revenues are separate from the tuition and fees, state resources and other core funds that support UC’s core instructional programs.