UAF minimum wage lower than State minimum wage
Max Erickson / Sun Star
In 2014 Alaska residents voted to raise the minimum wage to an amount of $9.75 starting January of this year, which left two-thirds of UAF’s student worker tier system below the state wage. The three tiers, labeled tier A, B and C pay respectively, $8.50, $9.50 and $10.50 meaning that both tier A and B pay below the state minimum wage.
UAF can pay below the state wage because UAF follows the federal minimum wage which is, $7.25 per hour, according to Sherrie Soileau, UAF’s payroll manager. However, some students think following the federal wage when the universities reside in Alaska is unjust.
“I have the basic belief that the minimum wage should be the living wage, especially with students with the raising tuition costs and the costs of growing up,”
Natalie Nino, a sophomore student worker, said. “We should be given the opportunity to have appropriate pay to make all those things happen. We shouldn’t have to always rely on our parents.”
Some students felt that the University should maintain the state’s minimum wage.
“I think that they should raise it at least to the minimum wage that everyone else is making,” Heather Bieber, a tier B student employee at the library, said. “I think it’s only fair that we get paid adequately for the work we do since we don’t get any benefits.” Bieber was surprised that UAF hasn’t raised the wage to meet the Alaska’s minimum wage, considering that popular employers of college students such as Fred Meyer often pay above Alaska’s minimum wage.
The University is a political subdivision of Alaska and because of that classification the University must follow certain federal regulations. These regulations dictate what type of employer UAF is and therefor they decide the pay scale is, Soileau said.
Some student don’t thnik UAF following the federal regulation is surprising.
“It’s a federal thing so they don’t have to, it’s the same reason you can’t smoke pot on campus.” Nick Testa, a tier C student employee at the mailroom, said. “It’s not optimal but they’re federally owned so they don’t have to follow state,”
“I do think it should be changed, I think it should be linear. I’m not sure how other federally owned institutions work though,” Testa said.
Students were unsure how the increased minimum wage should be implemented but the idea that the system should remain linear was popular.
“I think that they should increase all three so they stay tiered as they are now,” Craig Johnson, a student employee at OIT, said.
“The students are still doing a job and I don’t understand why the university doesn’t uphold the state standard.” Laura Stahl, a student employee working at the MBS complex’s cache, said.