Efforts are currently under way to implement a campus wide minimum wage of $10.75. This would not apply to temporary employees such as one-time event workers. Simultaneously, the next generation of the Associated Student Government will see a $1 increase in their hourly salary, bringing their wages to $13 an hour. There is hope that ASG’s salary increase will serve as the first step to bring all of student programs employees up to $13 an hour. The state regulated minimum wage is $9.32.
BC President Dr. David Rule “[intends] to approve the recommendations presented to the President’s cabinet by Michael Reese.” Rule goes on to say that he is “approving them because it’s a social justice issue … Michael put together a proposal to level the playing field” Reese presented to the President’s Cabinet a couple months ago and recently presented a revised version of the proposal to the Cabinet.
Given that Bellevue College receives state funding, the next step, according to Aaron Hilliard, vice president of human resources, is to ensure that the passage of this proposal is not in contention with any of the state codes. “We are prepared to move forward provided that it’s approved by the state,” said Hilliard. A member of administration adds that the unions still need to be consulted on the matter.
Brandon Lueken, program coordinator and adviser to ASG, has also pushed for the adoption of a $13 hourly rate for ASG, stating that ASG fulfills duties beyond the bounds of their job. Lueken sees the pay increase as a matter of fairness and equity.
The pay increase for ASG is pending approval by the Services and Activities Fee committee. The S&A fee comes out of student tuition and is annually distributed by a rotating group of students, administrators and faculty pending approval by the board of trustees according to BC precedence and RCW 28B.15.044. Lueken speculates that ASG may be able to fund the pay increase within their existing budget.
This funding would be in addition to the funding ASG already receives which was over $450,000 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, according to the budget reports. Of this, $165,260 is allocated to the salaries of the 10 ASG members and Lueken, their adviser, $22,787 goes to benefits and $28,068 goes to expenditures such as per diems and travel. Additionally, ASG received $13,000 to be allocated to cultural clubs, $15,000 for general club allocation and $107,210 plus over $100,000 of rollover for their reserve budget.
Zawdie Terry, president of ASG, says that the salary written on the applications for the 2013 presidency originally stated $13 an hour, “which was not fulfilled.”
Specific data on student employee salaries were unavailable, however, Hilliard says that “the compensation for student employees has a wide range, and it varies from department to department, it varies by funding source … ”
Lueken also cites the different rights for student employees and hourly employees to be problematic, as most student employees fluctuate between the two categories due to summer employment. One example of this, according to a member of administration, is that an hourly employee must receive benefits if they work over 300 hours. Student employees can accrue that many hours over the summer when they are categorized as hourly employees. Hilliard was unable to speak to or confirm any official delineation between a student employee and an hourly employee.
“The expectation is that [the pay raise] starts here and expands to other programs,” says Terry. Lueken says that conversations have begun regarding a $13 minimum wage for student program employees and that they are starting with ASG as they have the means to fund it. “Students deserve more than what they are being paid right now because … what we’ve seen is that while it’s stated that you are a student first, there is no reduction in the job whether you are a student or not. You are still expected to fulfill all of the job requirements and be a student,” says Terry.
Hilliard anticipates that, should the campus $10.75 proposal be passed, it will be implemented at the beginning of the fiscal year, July 1, or the academic year, fall quarter. The S&A committee is scheduled to review budget requests by March 28, deliberate funds by April 14, make their final recommendations by April 22. The S&A Fee budget should be finalized by the end of April.