While the successful increase of minimum wage in California might be good for student workers, some on campus say it could lead to workplace tensions and fewer job opportunities in areas such as the Recreation Center.
Update Oct. 29
ASI spokesperson Michelle Broom said the original number of student employees for 2008 she provided was incorrect. Approximately 445 students worked for ASI in 2008, she said.
As Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”
And while the successful increase of minimum wage in California might be good for student workers, some on campus say it could lead to workplace tensions and fewer job opportunities.
“I mean, I have high hopes, but we’ll see how reality turns out,” business administration sophomore Jessica Krtek said.
Krtek is one of the many employees on-campus currently making $8 an hour. Next June, her salary at Yogurt Creations will be bumped up to $9. If she’s still working there in January of 2016, she’ll make at least $10.
But how will employers on campus account for this sudden rise in costs?
Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) spokesperson Michelle Broom said the costs could be managed by employing fewer student staff.
During the last California minimum wage hike in 2008, from $7.50 to $8, ASI faced a similar situation.
“We were able to probably keep the same amount of people, we just weren’t able to hire new ones,” Broom said.
ASI currently employs approximately 550 students.
“When the seniors matriculate, we have the option of filling those spots, or leaving some of them empty,” she said.
When ASI reviews its budget next year, they will decide how many of the vacated positions they will be able to fill, Broom said.
Four-hundred of ASI’s student employees now make minimum wage, with an average workweek of 10 to 12 hours.
Mustang Daily reported in 2008 the minimum wage hike set the organization back around $78,000. At that time, however, ASI employed only 180 students.
Despite the increase expenses, they won’t result in higher prices at the Recreation Center or Children’s Center, Broom said.
“That’s really not our way of looking at things,” she said. “We like to make sure all of our prices and programs are student-friendly.”
When asked what will happen to the employees already making above minimum wage, Broom indicated it would be unlikely for them to receive pay hikes at the same time as those students who are now making $8 per hour.
“I guess the key would be not to expect anything,” she said. “Financially, our goal is to keep as many student employees hired as possible.”
This may come as unwelcome news to the students already making a higher salary, such as business administration senior Noelle Butcher, who makes $9.48 an hour working at the Recreation Center.
“If they think we’re already doing $1.50 more of work, why wouldn’t they think that come January?” she said.
Fellow facility supervisor and political science senior Taylor Rutsch shared Butcher’s feelings.
“I would expect an increase,” he said. “I’d expect to get the same bump proportionally as everyone else.”
Like ASI, Campus Dining hires 500-plus students. The $1 increase, according to spokesperson Yukie Nishinaga, will cost the organization upwards of $300,000. The second jump to $10 in 2016 would cost another $300,000 if the number of employees remain constant.
Although Nishinaga wrote in an email that, “as of right now, there are no plans to increase prices specifically due to the minimum wage increase,” Campus Dining’s prices are reviewed each year “to take into account any increases in utilities, insurance, wages, food commodities, etc.”
At the time of publication, Nishinaga had not responded to whether those already making more than minimum wage would receive raises as well.
Even if there are some negative ramifications, business administration sophomore Hunter Secrest, who is an exercise room assistant at the Recreation Center, says he still thinks the increase is necessary.
“I don’t feel that ($8 an hour) represents a standard of living here in California,” he said. “As someone who currently works for minimum wage, it’s hard to buy food and pay for bills each month.”