Friday, November 16 , 2018, 6:07 am | Fair 47º

 
 
 
 
Advice

University of California System Raising Employee Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour By 2017

The University of California System plans to increase the minimum wage for its workers to $15 an hour over the next three years, with the first raise set for October.

All workers hired at any of 10 UC campuses working at least 20 hours a week — both direct hires and contract employees — will benefit from the increase, including UC Santa Barbara employees. 

UC President Janet Napolitano unveiled the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan this week at a UC Board of Regents meeting, noting that all contractors who wish to do business with UC must also comply with government and university workplace laws and policies.

At UC Santa Barbara, a number of employees will be impacted by the change, according to university spokesman George Foulsham, but he couldn’t provide any more details.

“We are assessing what this means for our campus,” he told Noozhawk.

As one of Santa Barbara County’s largest employers, the university expects to see serious growth over the next five years, with several construction projects in the works.

According to a 2013-14 campus report, UCSB employs more than 6,200 people. About 4,000 of those employees are non-academic staff, with nearly 2,800 students falling into that category.

The mandated UC minimum wage 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.

News of the increase comes as the current $9 California state minimum wage prepares for an increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

The UC System is the state’s third largest employer — falling short of the federal and state governments — with about 195,000 employees at 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national labs, the Office of the President, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and others.

“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 in a statement Wednesday.

“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.”

To bolster the plan, the UC system will implement stronger oversight for contractors and subcontractors, requiring them to pay employees a wage that either meets or beats the new UC minimum wage. All of them will be put through an annual compensation audit or “spot audits,” which will be funded by contractors.

UC will also increase monitoring and compliance efforts related to service contractor wages and working conditions, launching a new phone hotline and online system to report complaints and issues to Napolitano’s office.

Money to pay for the wage increase is coming from “non-core funds” such as those self-supporting auxiliary services like bookstores and food services, according to the UC.

Those revenues are separate from student tuition and fees, state resources and money supporting UC’s instructional programs.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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