UC sets system-wide minimum wage at $15

The University of California Wednesday announced that it will raise the minimum wage for all workers systemwide to $15 an hour over the next three years.

UC president Janet Napolitano said the new minimum wage, the first of its kind to be established by a public university, will not only apply to direct university employees hired to work at least 20 hours a week, but to all employees of university contractors as well.

The required minimum wage will increase to $13 an hour on Oct. 1 of this year, to $14 an hour on Oct. 1, 2016, and to $15 an hour on Oct. 1, 2017. By comparison, the minimum wage in California, currently set at $9 an hour, is set to increase to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

The announcement was made at Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco.

Napolitano said in a statement that the university:

“… does not exist in a vacuum. … How we support our workers and their families impacts Californians who might never set foot on one of our campuses.”

Napolitano added:

“This is the right thing to do — for our workers and their families, for our mission and values, and to enhance UC’s leadership role by becoming the first public university in the United States to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of 15 dollars.”

The requirement for contractors to pay their employees at or above the new minimum wage will be brought in as service contracts are established or renewed, she said.

In order to enforce the new minimum wage, the university plans to expand monitoring of contractors’ wages and working conditions and conduct annual compensation audits of contractors as well as spot checks. The UC will also create a new phone hotline and central online system for contract workers to report complaints and violations to the Office of the President.

The University of California is the third-largest employer in the state, employing 195,000 people, UC officials said.