Univ. of California system raises minimum wage to $13 an hour

University of California CollageThe first phase of a law that will eventually boost the minimum wage of all University of California employees to $15 an hour went into effect on Thursday.

The UC system is the first in the country to voluntarily create a plan for a $15 minimum wage, according to a university statement emailed on Thursday.Now, all university employees working 20 or more hours per week will earn at least $13 an hour. That wage is expected to increase to $14 an hour on Oct. 1 of 2016 and reach its target of $15 an hour on Oct. 1 the following year.

According to the UC website, the system employs 190,000 workers, though only a small fraction of workers will benefit from the program as the program only impacts those workers receiving an hourly wage.

According to NPR, the full policy is set to affect 3,200 employees in the University of California system. However, the total number affected could actually be higher, as any third party contracted by UC for services will earn the required wage, also according to the system’s website.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15:  University of California employees represented by the Union Coalition demonstrate in front of UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center to call on University of California executives take a pay cut instead of reducing services to patients, cutting employee hours and increasing student tuition on July 15, 2009 in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, California. As California continues to make history drastic cuts to state funds to get a handle on the state budget crises, union officials say that UC administrators have declined to give them budget information that shows reduced hours and services are needed. Pending reductions in work hours and services may affect as many as 150,000 public employees at all 10 University of California campuses.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 15: University of California employees represented by the Union Coalition demonstrate in front of UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center to call on University of California executives take a pay cut instead of reducing services to patients, cutting employee hours and increasing student tuition on July 15, 2009 in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, California. As California continues to make history drastic cuts to state funds to get a handle on the state budget crises, union officials say that UC administrators have declined to give them budget information that shows reduced hours and services are needed. Pending reductions in work hours and services may affect as many as 150,000 public employees at all 10 University of California campuses. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

“This is the right thing to do — for our workers and their families, for our mission and values, and to enhance UC’s leadership role by becoming the first public university in the United States to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of 15 dollars,” UC President Janet Napolitano said when the plan was first announced.

The UC system’s website states the school will fund the cost of the extra wages through “non-core funds, including sales and revenue,” which will not include tuition or state resources. Employees can report wage or working conditions via a hotline, an online complaint system or periodic and annual audits.

The move comes in the midst of a national debate about the value of a minimum wage increase.

Michael Schramm is a student at the University of Michigan and USA TODAY College breaking news correspondent.

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