Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paying the Minimum Minimum

Throughout California, local governments have been implementing municipal minimum wage ordinances that raise the pay of hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers — but these laws are already running up against jurisdictional limits, leaving thousands of workers behind. For example, the City of Berkeley's decision to increase its minimum wage to $10 an hour this year and to $12.53 an hour by 2016 is being ignored by the city's largest employer: the University of California.

On October 1, Berkeley's minimum wage rose from the state-mandated level of $9 per hour to $10 per hour under the new city law. But UC Berkeley is paying several hundred student employees between $9 and $9.50 per hour, or about 5 to 10 percent below the city's required minimum wage. These students are employed through the campus' work-study program and work for UC Berkeley. All of the jobs appear to be for campus security monitors and academic center assistants. Security monitors work between the hours of 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., keeping the campus safe for the 8,000 Berkeley undergraduate students who reside in dorms. Academic center assistants help run the campuses study halls. A UC Berkeley website advertising these low-paying jobs recently showed that there were 93 positions currently open...

Ellen Topp, UC Berkeley's director of communications for student affairs, stated in an email that the university is knowingly flouting the city's minimum wage, because she said "the UC system's constitutional autonomy exempts it from municipal wage laws." Topp was referring to the university's status as an autonomous branch of state government. In other words, UC isn't bound by certain city and county laws, and therefore follows the state-mandated minimum wage of $9 per hour...

Full story at

Who could ask for anything more?

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