A minimum wage increase has caused budget adjustments at the college.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law on Labor Day that raised the minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 per hour.
“If the cost goes up, you either reduce hours or increase your budget,” Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said. “Ideally, we want to make sure our budget doesn’t grow. There might be other discretionary things we can cut if we need to keep budgets under control, and that’s what we plan to do.”
Each department is handling this challenge differently.
Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Andrea Clark said the admissions office hopes to hire more students this year because of its goals, so student pay will be a larger portion of their budget than in past years.
“Probably the most notable adjustment would be that starting student ambassadors used to have a wage that was notably higher than minimum wage,” Clark said. “As the minimum wage has increased little by little over the past decade, the difference in minimum and starting ambassador wage has become smaller.”
In fact, the starting student ambassador pay was lower than the new minimum wage. Now, those new to the position will receive the minimum pay, while those with more experience will earn above it.
The law also affected Mossey Library.
“We were fortunate enough to have already budgeted additional monies for our student workers this fiscal year,” said Linda Moore, public service librarian. “Rather than cut student hours if our budget ran short, we would have spent less in another area, as the library cannot operate without our student workers.”
Director of the College Bookstore Cynthia Willing explained her budget is made two years in advance. Therefore, student employees will be working fewer hours to compensate for the increase.
The law also gave permission for an optional training period where an employee younger than 20 years old can be paid $4.25 per hour for 90 days.
Péwé said, however, that the college decided to jump straight to the $8.15 per hour pay.
“When you start adding all these different provisions of laws, statutes, things of that nature, it costs you time, money, productivity. Things you’d rather spend doing beneficial things, [like] serving the mission of the college,” Péwé said.
Not all departments with student employees will be affected by the law.
General Manager of Bon Appétit, Jeffrey Every, said his employees are already paid above the minimum wage. Deb Johnson, coordinator of the copy and postal centers, explained her employees are paid per piece of mail they process.
However, the law also included a 25 percent raise over the next four years, so that by 2018, the minimum wage will be $9.25 per hour. If this becomes a problem, the departments will find a solution at that time.
Fortunately for students who are interested in on-campus employment, Péwé shared that there aren’t plans to decrease the number of students being hired at the school.
“Employers today want the employees they hire to have already had experience,” Péwé said. “They want that trial period to be with somebody else, and once they know this is a good employee because they have done great work for somebody else, they don’t have to take a chance.”