Wage increase for employees has no effect on students

| News Editor

Students hoping for a wage increase along with Washington University’s full-time employees shouldn’t get their hopes up.

As of July 1, the minimum hourly wage for full-time, permanent University employees was increased from $10 to $10.50.

The amount is significantly more than Missouri’s required minimum wage of $7.35 an hour, but the wage increase does not apply to student workers because they aren’t considered permanent employees of the school.

“At first, I found it annoying, but it makes sense in a way because other University workers are probably less likely to have other sources of income, like their parents, so if it’s their main form of making money, then it makes sense,” junior Karen Gitlin said. “But not every kid at Wash. U. has financial support from their parents, so it’s definitely not fair in those instances.”

Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Ann Prenatt said that wage increases also don’t apply to students employed through the Federal Work-Study Program, whose compensation is managed by the Office of Financial Services.

“It doesn’t seem unfair entirely that full-time jobs get paid more, but I do think if they raise the minimum amount they’re paying full-time employees that maybe there should at least be a slightly higher minimum pay amount for work-study students,” senior Julia Katris said.

Katris said she began working at a minimum-wage level as a work-study student but has been given annual raises for staying within the same department, a situation that applies to most work-study students.

The decision to make the minimum wage for University employees higher than the legally required amount was made about seven years ago, Prenatt said.

“We were having discussions with the contracted vendors that we considered as basic service contractors—people who do groundskeeping, Bon Appetit, the companies that have custodial services for us,” Prenatt said. “We came to the conclusion that we ought to have the entry-level rate above minimum wage and apply the same standard to our own employees.”

Prenatt explained that the entry-level wage is looked at annually as part of her office’s wage structure review to decide whether or not it should be raised.

“If they’re on our payroll, we make sure they at least make [Missouri] minimum wage,” Prenatt said. “Our focus is on the employees that have an ongoing relationship with us.”

Bon Appetit Resident District Manager Nadeem Siddiqui said that his employees are very happy with the pay increase.

“One of the staff at [the] Village said, ‘I had been allergic and I couldn’t buy lactose-free milk, but now I can,’” Siddiqui said. “We take those things for granted—not our staff.”

Siddiqui approves of the University’s policy of paying above legally required minimum wage.

“If we are committed to this, then we have to commit because this is their livelihood,” Siddiqui said. “They have a very difficult challenge, and for them to say that, I’m proud of it. It’s a good feeling to have.”

Senior Madeleine Parker was happy to find out that the University pays its employees significantly more than the legally required hourly wage.

“Paying people above minimum wage is good because you get better-quality workers, and they’re happier,” she said. “If you pay people more, Wash. U. has more choice on who they can hire and they’re likely to stay longer.”

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