Don’t be quick to condemn: Pacific is different from UC system
Taking a page out of the city of Los Angeles’ book, the University of California colleges have announced a system-wide increase of their workers’ minimum wage to $15 an hour by Oct. 1, 2017 — a sharp contrast to the rest of California, whose minimum wage is projected to increase from $9 to just $10 in 2016.
For those of us at Pacific working for the comparatively low minimum wage of $9 an hour, the increase UC President Janet Napolitano is bringing about may sound like a dream — but is it really?
First of all, it is important to note that this minimum wage increase only applies to workers who work a minimum of 20 hours a week, which means an uncertain amount of part-time employees will be excluded from this increase. However, the UC system will also instate the UC minimum wage for their contracted workers, which is certainly a welcome boost.
While detractors are suspicious that layoffs and hikes in tuition will ultimately pay for the increases, University of California representatives insist the costs will be covered by revenue from services such as medical centers, bookstores, parking garages and food services.
So what, exactly, is stopping Pacific from doing the same?
Before we get up in arms, we should probably consider the vast differences between University of the Pacific and the University of California system. The university system, which sprawls across 10 campuses, currently employs a staggering 195,000 people and has a total payroll of more than $12 billion, with this proposed increase tacking on another $14 million. Pacific’s 2010 Community Impact Report states that in 2008, the latest year in which data was available, salaries and wages composed $152 million of Pacific’s operational expenditures for 4,957 jobs.
In addition, while the University of California system is the third largest employer in California, University of the Pacific is only the second largest private employer in San Joaquin County. The UC system also has an endowment of $11.2 billion, compared to Pacific’s $386.4 million.
The simple answer is, Pacific, as a smaller private college, may not be able to afford the increase as readily as the behemoth that is the UC system. And with Pacific 2020 currently underway, substantially increasing the University’s minimum wage may not be at the forefront of Pacific administration’s minds.
All in all, I’m not trying to make excuses for Pacific — I, and many other workers, would obviously love to make a higher minimum wage. However, in events such as these, this reporter would like to gently remind everyone that one must survey all aspects of the situation before rushing to condemn our University.
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