On Oct. 18, Auburn University announced it will begin hiring at a minimum hourly wage of $14.50 starting Jan. 1, 2022.
Although the initiative is not without a flaw or two, it’s a huge step in the right direction. As cited in the email sent to students about two weeks ago, it will double the minimum federal wage of $7.25. The new hiring rate will impact more than 200 of the University’s full-time and part employees and administrative professionals, though student workers are not eligible. Even though there are no added benefits for students, there will be no impact on student tuition or fees, according to the University.
Regardless, it will have a great impact on those it does affect. Not only are new hires receiving this added incentive, but employees who make at or slightly above that rate will get an increase to match those getting a salary adjustment. Raising the hourly wage at Auburn reflects a rallying cry nationally to raise the minimum wage to $15, something that many believe would improve the overall standard of living for minimum wage workers. Full-time workers should not fall below the poverty line, as 27.3% of Auburn does.
Another benefit the minimum hiring rate will bring is increasing employee morale and retention. When employees feel like they’re being paid well, when they’re comfortable and happy outside of the job, they’re more likely to stay long-term. Paying employees more is also a great way to acknowledge the work they do to keep the University running. The increase would also benefit minority workers and women — African Americans, Latinos and women make up a disproportionate number of workers making below $15 an hour.
Sometimes, it seems like the University hits the mark rarely. This decision, though, will undoubtedly benefit many of the families working for Auburn by improving their standard of living. A decision like this accurately demonstrates how to show the members of the “Auburn Family” how much they are valued and appreciated.
In 2016, Auburn University Human Resources began taking steps to review and adjust pay and benefits for workers. The longevity of this project and its outcomes shows are a promising sign of the University's ability to take stock of a situation and improve.
Although this improvement doesn't include the cumulative workforce of more than 13,800 employees, including student employees, it is an improvement, nonetheless, and very promising. It's a step in the right direction for more equitable pay for University employees.
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