UC President Announces Systemwide Minimum Wage Increase
On Wednesday, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced that the university system will increase its hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2017 for both contractors and those employed directly by UC, including health care providers at UC's five medical centers, the San Francisco Business Times' "Bay Area BizTalk" reports (Rauber, "Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 7/22).
UC providers in the past have gone on strike over low wages (California Healthline, 1/27).
Meanwhile, research by UC-Berkeley has found that past instances of minimum wage increases at the state level resulted in reduced use of food stamps and shifts in medical insurance programs but did not affect the quality of care (California Healthline, 6/2).
Details of Pay Increase
Under the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan, UC's minimum wage will increase gradually from the current rate of $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2017.
The plan will apply to UC-employed workers and contractors who work at least 20 hours per week.
UC estimates that the pay increase will affect about 3,200 direct UC workers. The system currently employs about 195,000 workers across its 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national labs and other locations ("Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 7/22).
It is unclear how many contract workers will be affected, but UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said the number of contractors who currently make less than $15 an hour is "many times larger" than the number of affected UC employees (Koseff, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/22).
The pay increase is projected to cost about $14 million annually. Funding for the plan likely will come from hospital revenues, parking fees and bookstore sales, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports (Gordon/Willon, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/22).
Meanwhile, UC under the initiative also will:
- Expand its monitoring and compliance efforts for contractors' wages and working conditions; and
- Require all contractors to undergo compensation audits to ensure they are providing wages at or above the new minimum wage ("Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 7/22).
The plan received quick support from several Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
In addition, Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who has cosponsored legislation (SB 3) to increase California's minimum wage, said, "I applaud UC for a long overdue increase in the minimum wage for its hardest working and lowest-paid workers" (Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/22).
However, Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) criticized UC for expanding the pay raise to private contractors and cautioned that students could end up covering the cost of the plan. She said, "It is concerning that UC would implement this proposal just after spending an entire year arguing they do not have the funds necessary to keep tuition flat and enroll more California students" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 7/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.