UW Today

September 28, 2015

UW to raise minimum wage for workers to $15 an hour

News and Information

The University of Washington announced today that, consistent with its earlier commitment to Seattle’s minimum wage law, it intends to raise the minimum wage of its workers — including student workers in Seattle — to $15 an hour. Subject to the successful conclusion of on-going negotiations with its unions, the increase will take effect in two stages: moving to $13 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016, and to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2017. The increases are in keeping with the spirit of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law and would keep the University aligned with the timetable established by the city for large employers.

“We are very pleased to be able raise the hourly rates of our workers to meet the minimum wage guidelines established by the city, and gratified by the active participation of our student organizations in helping to reinforce this direction,” said UW Interim President Ana Mari Cauce. “Bringing our workers to the $15 minimum is something we have been aiming for since the conversation began last year in Seattle. It’s the right thing to do, and I’m glad we are positioned to get there.”

The new minimum wage level affects approximately 5,500 workers, including about 3,500 student workers at the Seattle campus. Because the University funds its staff from a number of different revenue streams, deciding to establish the new minimum wage was not without its challenges. Some student workers are paid from student fees, and the University was mindful of the effects the new wage would have on fees. Student leaders and the student-led Services and Activities Fee Committee analyzed the effects and adjusted their budgets accordingly to accommodate the new wage.

The estimated annual cost of bringing all workers to $13 an hour in 2016 is $3.2 million, with about $2.9 million of that for student workers. The annual cost of moving to $15 per hour in 2017 is estimated to be $7.9 million overall, with $6.7 million of the cost going to student employees.