University of Maryland sets $15 minimum wage for student workers

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Last year, Vivian Flanagan got tired of working on the University of Maryland campus: The hours were brutal, and some shifts started or ended at 3 a.m., leaving her struggling in class. During the coronavirus pandemic, she worries about handling packages and working directly with so many students.

She was making about $12 an hour, and she thought, “I’m not getting paid enough.”

She was not alone in her frustration. In November, over 1,200 U-Md. Students signed a petition launched by the United Students Against Sweatshop campus chapter in support of a school-wide minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Flanagan was thrilled when the university president announced this week that classes at University Park would begin and that the minimum wage for student workers would be raised starting in January.

“Oh my gosh – I really didn’t expect this to happen,” she said. “I really, very excited. “

In a message to the campus community, U-Md. President Darryll J. Pines called the minimum wage increase “a significant multimillion-dollar investment in a key pillar of our strategic plan: investing in people and communities.”

In the interest of fairness, “we think it’s important that we listen to the community and respond to their concerns about wages,” Pines said on the call. University leaders want to speed up the state’s timetable to increase wages, he said. And to ensure that students can make ends meet in metropolitan areas where the cost of living is so high.

“Our government was paying attention to this issue even before student advocacy,” Pines said.

Maryland will raise the minimum wage for most hourly workers to $15 by 2025. Last year, the University of Maryland system, including the College Park campus, approved a $15 minimum wage for most employees.

But many student workers remain at their old wage levels.

The University of Maryland system approves a minimum wage of $15 for most employees

A university spokeswoman said U-Md. There are about 4,300 student employees, some of whom are paid $12.50 an hour until the new rate goes into effect next year. Others, usually those helping faculty with research assignments, already make more than $15 an hour.

United Student Organization member and student leader Flanagan helped push a bill that passed the school’s dorm association, calling for a pay increase for students after hearing they depended on campus jobs to pay for food and rent. Some may not be allowed Do not take out loans to cover living expenses. In July, as a rising senior, she said she learned that wages in her department would increase to $15 an hour.

In addition to tuition benefits, stipends for graduate assistantships have increased this year to nearly $31,000 a year, said Joey Haavik, 26, who is pursuing a master’s degree in international education policy.

According to the government, the minimum stipend for postgraduate assistants has increased by more than 26% in 2022 and by more than 50% in the past four years.

Haavik, Graduate Student Council President, Said tuition was one of the reasons that attracted him to U-Md. — but he must live with his parents in Columbia, Maryland, because the stipend is not enough to cover rent, books, fees and other expenses.

“It’s not an economically practical decision to live in University Park with this stipend,” he said. “Financial advisors wouldn’t recommend it.”

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Medical PhD. Student union president Ayelette Halbfinger, 22, said leadership had been supporting student advocacy for higher wages, and the challenge was how to fund the increase.

She had been working part-time as a student — but not on campus. Wages are better elsewhere.

As for Flanagan, she quit her job during the crazy hours and got another one in the same department. “Changing a job, getting a raise,” she said, “really improved my life tremendously.”

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