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You’ll get $15 an hour at the University of California – if your hours aren’t slashed first

The University of California is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years for “both direct and service contract employees,” the school said Wednesday.

There’s a big honking if, though:

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.

President Janet Napolitano said this makes the UC system “the first public university in the United States to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of 15 dollars.” (UC workers will earn $3 more than the new statewide minimum wage of $10 come January.)

What she didn’t address is how the 20-hour threshold will affect those who are currently working more than 20 hours but vulnerable to cuts in their hours, or those who would like more hours than they get now. As UCLA’s Jacob Kohlhepp noted in a recent College Fix story, student jobs on campus tend to max out at 15 hours a week – and those currently pay $9.25 an hour.

And as The Fix has noted, the insurance requirements under Obamacare have led colleges to cut student worker hours so they don’t qualify for school-provided insurance. It hit one of our own writers. The University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan has called Obamacare a tax on full-time work that incentivizes part-time work and unemployment.

So while the UC system 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,” as its press release says, it apparently does nothing to protect workers from wage-driven cuts to their hours.

One thing that workers whose hours get cut may find useful: The UC system is creating “a new phone hotline and central online system for contract workers to report complaints and issues directly to the Office of the President.”

So if you don’t appreciate losing your hours and still making a lower wage because of the UC’s progressive approach to wages, let Napolitano know.

Read the UC statement.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.