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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Minimum wage increase may not affect campus employees

    Dustin Chilson, a music education and performance sophomore, serves up a Philly Cheese Steak last night at the Park Student Union, where he works in the food court for the state minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.
    Dustin Chilson, a music education and performance sophomore, serves up a Philly Cheese Steak last night at the Park Student Union, where he works in the food court for the state minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

    The state minimum wage increase approved by voters in November isn’t likely to affect UA employees, but the student unions are trying to find out how to increase their workers wages in January if they have to, said the Arizona Student Unions director.

    “”We know the number, but how we’re going to manage that is another story. It has to come out of revenues,”” said student union director Dan Adams.

    Although it is not yet clear whether a statewide minimum wage increase passed in the Nov. 7 election will apply to the UA, Adams said he is looking into the change.

    Adams said there is a provision that says Arizona state government is exempt from the increase in minimum wage, but even though the university is a state government entity, there are still gray areas in the exact wording that need to be explored.

    Greg Fahey, associate vice president for government relations at the UA, said although nothing is certain yet, initial investigation leads him to believe the UA is in the clear.

    “”It doesn’t apply to the state, but it applies to political subdivisions,”” Fahey said. “”We are not a political subdivision, so the way I read the language and have talked informally to lawyers, it would not apply to us.””

    He said that if it is necessary, the UA will go to the state attorney general for help interpreting the law.

    If the increase does apply to the university, departments that pay employees minimum wage will need to find a way to come up with a source for the extra money by Jan. 1, when the new measure goes into effect.

    There’s also the compression issue to think about, Adams said. The new minimum wage, at $6.75, is a 30 percent increase from the old minimum wage and would close the pay gap between beginning and mid-level employees.

    “”Assume right now that you’re making $7.50 as a student supervisor. Suppose I just moved up to (75 cents) less than you as an entry-level employee…and the question becomes, is that fair, do we try to adjust your salary because you’re a supervisor? That’s not an easy question to answer,”” Adams said.

    The $113,000 projection does not factor in adjusting other salaries upward to compensate.

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