U of L implements ‘living wage’ for staff

By: Olivia Krauth

U of L has implemented a new ‘living wage’ program for regular staff members. The program makes the minimum working salary for the effected employees $10 per hour, a jump from $8.67 per hour.

The program is the first of its kind to be adopted by a public university in Kentucky. It won’t be a one-time deal; it will be reviewed on a yearly basis to determine if change will be needed to keep U of L employees’ salaries in an appropriate range.

“Part of our commitment to employees in making U of L an employer of choice and a great place to work is to help ensure that they are able to meet the necessity of daily living through a ‘livable wage’ in our community,” said Sam Connally, vice president of human resources at U of L. “Part of our commitment to community development and helping Louisville attract the kind of folks that will help our community grow.”

A ‘living wage’ is an hourly wage that employers need to pay their employees so that they can afford the basic necessities needed to live in that community. According to Connally, U of L used a number of public data sources to determine a cost of living in the Louisville Metro area in order to select an appropriate salary.

“It represents a long term commitment to our employees,” said Connally. “We are not just increasing current employees’ salaries to $10 per hour. We are increasing the minimum salary in our salary ranges to $10, so this will apply to future employees as well.”

A total of 152 employees will be affected by the new system. Those affected by the change are the lowest-paid regular staff members, who typically make $30,000 a year or less. Employees who don’t work on a continual basis are not included, nor are students who work for the university.

The program will not require budget cutbacks, transfers between funds or additional fundraising. Part of the increase was covered by a regular salary increase program in July, and the rest of the money is coming from savings from the university health plan. Employee health benefits won’t suffer due to the new program.

The idea was originally conceived by the U of L Sustainability Committee, and was then endorsed by the Great Place to Work Committee in the spring of 2012. After gaining support from multiple faculty groups, Provost Shirley Willihnganz presented the idea to the Board of Trustees for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Photos courtesy of Google Images

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