Sunday, March 19, 2017
University Students Always Get Screwed
Arizona's minimum-wage hike leaves 11,200 college students behind
While many are applauding or criticizing Arizona's new minimum wage, one group has been largely left out of the conversation: thousands of students at the three state universities.
About 11,200 students from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona are now making less money to work for their schools than if they got a job right off campus.
That's because when Proposition 206 raised the Arizona minimum wage from $8.05 an hour to $10 on Jan. 1, benefiting an estimated 800,000 people, it exempted employees who work for the state, including universities.
The vast majority of those left behind are public-university students. Less than 200 state-agency employees were affected. Community colleges were also required to comply.
It means a student who works 10 hours a week for minimum wage is missing out on $312 this semester. One who works 20 hours a week for two semesters will sacrifice $1,250 this year.
“When the (state minimum-wage) raise hit but we didn't see the effects, we felt like we were left out to dry by our school.”
Lucas Dickey, an NAU junior in political science who works for the university grounds crew
"I'm being paid $2 less than a McDonald’s worker for performing absolutely essential tasks for everyday campus upkeep," said Lucas Dickey, an NAU junior in political science who works for the grounds crew.
"I can’t believe this doesn’t apply to us. We all assumed it would," said Megan Sopa, an ASU junior who works as a grader for the math department and a community ambassador in her off-campus apartment.
"It wouldn’t have been a massive increase in my wages but every little bit counts," she said. "The thing that’s most bothersome is that it doesn’t seem fair."
So far, the inequality has sparked varied responses from the universities.
UA plans to spend about $6.6 million to raise all employees to $10 an hour in July. That same month, a Flagstaff law takes effect that will leave some NAU employees making almost $4 less per hour than their off-campus equals.
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