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  • This University Takes Big Step In Being The First With A $15 Minimum Wage

    The University of California took a major step in becoming the first public university with a $15 minimum wage Thursday by jumping to $13 an hour.

    The minimum wage increase was first announced in July by UC President Janet Napolitano. 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. The increase will happen in several segments before finally hitting $15 an hour by 2017.

    “All employees hired to work 20 hours or more a week will be paid an hourly wage of at least $13 starting Oct. 1,” a press release from the university stated. “That minimum will rise to $14 an hour on Oct. 1, 2016, and to $15 on Oct. 1, 2017.”

    The university has 195,000 employees throughout its 10 campuses and facilities. It will cost an estimated $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.

    “UC is the first public university in the country to voluntarily set a $15 minimum wage,” the press release continued. “The new rate will be higher than California’s minimum wage, which currently is $9 an hour and set to increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.”

    Prior to enacting its own policy, the university was already an advocate for minimum wage increases. 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.

    Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have gone higher. Support for a minimum wage of $15 an hour has been adamant across the country. The push has been led primarily by union-backed groups like Fight for $15. Thus far, no state has passed a $15 minimum wage.

    Seattle led the way in passing the $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles followed not long after. Each local ordinance phased in the new wage over the course of several years.

    While supporters argue it will help the poor by allowing them to more easily afford basic necessities, critics say it may actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities. Even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss.

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