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UCCS salary hike aims to address student labor shortage amid inflation | Education

Students working on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus are earning higher salaries starting July 1 after a student-led effort over the past school year to make campus salaries more competitive with off-campus employers.

Will the increase from $12.95 to $14 an hour encourage more students to work on campus and fill vacancies, restoring some campus services as the fall semester approaches? The jury is out.

The 11,394-student university now pays student workers a minimum of $14 an hour, while the minimum wage in El Paso County and statewide is $12.56. The latest on-campus increase came on Jan. 1, when the lowest salary jumped 63 cents to $12.32 in the workforce of 2,000 students.

Student workers ask the administration for a minimum wage of $15 last year with United Campus Workers Colorado argued that students shouldn’t feel pressured to settle for wages below hourly rates from companies like Target or Amazon at a time when expectations may conflict with coursework and schoolwork.

The living wage in Colorado Springs for a single adult with no children is $16.91 per hour for a full-time job, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator. That’s more than $2 more than the hourly wage of $14.78 for the start of 2021 that The Gazette has already reported it.

The reality is that many students are opting for off-campus employment, making UCCS an example of an institution impacted by pandemic-induced labor shortages.

Pikes Peak Community College, which officially changes its name to Pikes Peak State College on Aug. 29, also has a $14 minimum wage for campus workers among its 12,000 students.

Despite the salary adjustment in place since the fall 2021 semester, the college is also experiencing a shortage of student employees each semester since the pandemic, according to communications coordinator Karen Kovaly. His financial aid office struggled to spend all of the federal dollars allocated to the college to pay student workers on financial aid, Kovaly said.

Conversely, Colorado College has had no problems filling on-campus positions with their $12.56 base salary for student workers, according to Stephanie Wurtz, assistant vice president of communications at CC.

The question is whether higher salaries will encourage UCCS students to return to jobs on campus.

UCCS spokesman Chris Valentine said the goal was to reopen certain areas of campus that have been restricted or closed since the peak of the pandemic, particularly campus restaurants. This would restore a bustling campus atmosphere for students in true pre-COVID style.

UCCS IT major Quang Tran said his “favorite place” Cafe 65 has been closed since 2020. The cafeteria, just around the corner from his job at the Kraemer Family Library, is one of two main options for hungry students in the university center. . The other is Clyde’s Gastropub, which just reopened with limited hours and menu during the spring semester.

Alekx Schneebeck, a recent UCCS graduate and member of United Campus Workers Colorado, has been involved in the campaign for higher wages since the union’s research phase, when pay was identified as a key issue for student workers. of the UCCS. On Friday, Schneebeck was “jazzed” by the $14 minimum wage.

“This will give students in entry-level positions more financial security,” Schneebeck said. It’s also beginning to catch up with UCCS’s other UC campuses in Denver and Boulder, where students are paid a minimum of $15 per hour.

UCCS enacted the salary change after what Valentine called a “budget decision”, with funds being a determining factor. An increase in tuition and more state funding this year – UCCS’s two main sources of revenue – made the salary increase possible.

Tuition and fees are increasing 2.5% this fall, from $10,760 to $11,029 per year for full-time students taking 30 credit hours. The university projected a 1.8% drop in tuition from the 2021-2022 academic year and fall semester. However, Valentine said current enrollment projections give the university a head start.

Schneebeck expressed his gratitude to the students, faculty and staff who participated in the campaign. He is also grateful to the university, which listened and responded to the students.

Student workers cite convenience, flexibility and community as benefits of on-campus employment, with some still calling the new lowest salary ‘uncompetitive’ – despite being $1.44 higher than salary minimum.

Junior exercise science major Kim Blough is just a UCCS student who sees the effects of inflation, but she avoided high gas prices by walking to his job as a tour guide on campus.

She called the student salary increase “not in the right direction,” but will still have to find a second job in the fall semester. “I feel like the $14 will definitely be nice, but for me, a big part of the reward for a job that isn’t competitive in terms of salary is knowing that I’ll get a nice letter of recommendation. “, she said.

Leisure center employees

Dalen Jackson and Sarah Cooper, who work at UCCS’ Galloly Wellness and Recreation Center, each received a $1.05 raise after the university raised the campus minimum wage to $14 from l time on July 1.

Senior health and wellness promotion major Dalen Jackson is the building manager of the Gallogly wellness and recreation center and is paid above minimum wage, but still got a raise of $1.05. “It inspires me to want to work more now that my efforts are being rewarded with a higher quantitative amount. It inspires me to work harder, work longer hours and accumulate more money,” Jackson said. .

During the summer, Jackson works up to 40, but during the fall and spring semesters, all employed students are limited to 25 hours per week. “With everything else going up, working a maximum of 25 hours a week sometimes makes things a bit tricky,” he said. “I wish, if anything, that they increased the number of hours you can work per week,” Jackson said.