While San Francisco raised its minimum wage from $12.25 to $13 in July, only students that were already being paid at the City minimum wage benefitted from this increase. This means students like Megan Foley, who works at the Campus Recreation Department, make under minimum wage — just $10 an hour.
“I’m not sure why everyone on campus doesn’t get paid the same,” said Foley, a pre-kinesiology major. “There have been rumors that the wage will go up, but no one really knows.”
Associate Vice President of Human Resources Ann Sherman explained that President Leslie Wong requested an analysis of the impact of adopting the City minimum wage. The University previously looked into paying student employees at the City minimum wage level back in Fall of 2014, but reported a $2.7 million impact to the University.
“We are exempt from paying the City minimum wage given our government classification,” Sherman said.
Wages of students employed by the University, also known as work-study, start at California’s minimum wage of $10 and could go up to $17.26. Sherman explained the difference in student wages is based on the department they are working for along with laws governing waging, prevailing wages for that type of work, and skills needed for the type of job.
“Departments have the ability to set a wage rate that they think is appropriate given what the work is and whether or not they’re finding good quality candidates,” Sherman said.
Vendors like Cafe 101 on campus are contracted by the University and therefore are still held up to San Francisco labor laws, which means they have to pay students the San Francisco minimum wage or more.
“Since I’m from LA and minimum wage is completely different there, I did have to ask about that just to clarify,” said Adriana Ruiz, an undeclared sophomore at SF State. “They did let me know that because it is a café that I do make tips, so I would be making San Francisco minimum wage and tips on top of that.”
The University will continue to look into the impact of raising the minimum wage on campus, followed by a report that will be presented to President Wong at the end of this school year.
However, raising the minimum wage could negatively impact students that are enrolled in work-study.
Associate Director of Financial Aid Jimmie Wilder explained students that are qualified to participate in work-study are awarded a set amount of money from the federal government. The University will pay 70 percent of the student’s wages and the rest of the money comes from the student’s allotted sum.
“When a student’s work-study award has been used up, they either have to stop working or the department has to look for another source,” Wilder said.
Departments don’t always have enough student assistant funds to continue paying students that were on work-study, forcing the end of the student’s employment.
“If we give everyone a raise — let’s say they’re making $10 now and they start making $13 next week by virtue of doing that — they just lost a quarter of their hours,” Sherman said. “Once they hit that number, they’re done.”