USG Resolution supports increased minimum wage for university employees

USG+Resolution+supports+increased+minimum+wage+for+university+employees

Tucker Nielsen, Lode Writer

The March 16 USG General Body Meeting was introduced to Resolution No. 2021-2022 #003, which would increase the minimum wage of full-time employees to $15 an hour. USG President Zachary Olson, Isobel Bowker, and the Student Affairs Committee introduced the resolution to the rest of the student government and the attending public. The resolution is in response to University Senate Proposal 50-19, which calls for providing all non-student Michigan Tech employees a living wage. 

Proposal 50-19 urges the Board of Trustees to follow current institutions like the University of Virginia and Stanford in raising minimum wage for non-student staff to $15 an hour. It justifies the increase as such: “This wage would be in line with the midpoint range of suggested living wages for employees with and without dependents in Houghton, Mich.” The resolution adds that “1843 of all 4005 Michigan Tech employees currently earn less than $15/hour” as of March 2022. It addresses how significant the issue is for several families relying on wages from Michigan Tech to sustain themselves.

Inflation plays a major factor in the demand for higher wages. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in the last quarter of 2021, the price of goods and services in the US increased by 7.1%. Prices for food and basic items have also increased in local stores like Walmart. 

Resolution 2021-2022 #003 also includes numerical justification for increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It was determined that “the current minimum wage at Michigan Tech, $9.87 per hour, allows for a budget of $473 per month to spend on rent, assuming a forty hour work week and an allocation of 30% of income before taxes to be spent on rent.” It’s emphasized how this budget falls well below the standard rent in Houghton. On rental site Zumper.com, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Houghton is $600 per month. According to the resolution, “A minimum wage of $15 per hour would allow for a budget of $720 per month to spend on rent, which is comparable to the average rent for an apartment in Houghton.” 

Another consideration at the March 16 meeting was including student employees with the minimum wage raise. Earlier this year, the Dining Services Town Hall addressed the lack of employees in their current staffing, resulting in closing Douglass Houghton Hall’s dining room until after Spring Break. At the meeting, some students recommended that the wage for dining employees be raised to match other competitive food service jobs, like at McDonalds or Taco Bell. Associate Vice President for Administration Theresa Coleman-Kaiser stated this would require additional, university-wide discussions. 

Additional questions on Resolution 2021-2022 #003 can be emailed to usg.mtu.edu, [email protected] The resolution itself will appear …in the official minutes of the first Undergraduate Student Government General Body Meeting after its adoption.” It will be circulated to Tech’s students, “… via publication on the USG website and USG social media accounts by the USG Public Relations Committee,” as recorded in the official documentation.