USC to raise minimum wage to improve employee retention

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Anson Foster, a member of the United Campus Workers of South Carolina, speaks at an event in March

Campaign of the poor, a national call for moral renewal

More than 1,300 University of South Carolina employees will receive a pay raise in an effort to increase employee retention and attract talent.

“It was way overdue,” Caroline Agardy, vice president of human resources, said in a press release. “The only way to bring together and retain a diverse and highly skilled workforce is to compensate them competitively.”

Most are full-time staff working in custodial services, facilities, maintenance, groundskeeping, student services, audio-visual services, computer product support and library services, according to A press release.

In October, all USC staff will receive new job titles with new pay scales. Some will receive a raise next year as a result — about 650 on the Columbia campus and 4,300 systemwide.

In addition, nearly 700 other employees will earn more because USC will raise its minimum wage to $14 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2023. The previous minimum was $12 an hour, which the university has announced. deployed in January 2022.

Currently, 686 employees are below the new minimum, according to data presented by Agardy at the September 16 board meeting.

“Our compensation will be fairer and fairer, and we will create career paths for our employees so they can see their careers at USC,” Agardy said at the board meeting.

These changes will cost the university more than $5.2 million a year, systemwide, said university spokesman Jeff Stensland. A portion will be subsidized by funds allocated to the university’s strategic priorities.

“It is absolutely necessary. For us, the most important infrastructure is our human infrastructure,” said USC President Michael Amiridis. “We are investing in our human infrastructure.

Information on what the average increase will be was not available.

These decisions followed a human resources study on classification and compensation.

The study found that staff turnover has more than doubled since 2018, Agardy said. It’s currently about 18% for classified employees, she said.

Lack of opportunities for advancement and dissatisfaction with compensation are the top factors causing USC employees to leave their jobs, according to a survey by the university’s human resources department.

The university has also revised minimum employment requirements to broaden candidate pools, so more USC graduates are qualified for entry-level jobs at USC, Agardy said at the meeting. from the administration board. Minimum job changes largely involve reducing the amount of experience required, Stensland said. Also, education can count as years of experience.

But some say these changes are not enough.

The South Carolina United Campus Workers union at USC launched a campaign last year to raise the minimum wage at USC to $15 an hour. Although the union applauded the university for the change, it said the university needed not only a higher minimum wage, but also annual wage increases that keep pace with the cost of living.

“There are still many part-time, student and contract employees who are not affected by this minimum wage increase,” said union member Benjamin Brown. “They will continue to make poverty wages and struggle to make ends meet until the university pays all its workers a living wage.”

Union members said they would continue to fight for their demands.

“We are and will be persistent until we see the manifestation of our work,” said union member Bobbie Keitt.

“Our work pays off, and the results of our efforts prove that when workers unite and organize, we can win,” said union member Anson Foster.

Faculty positions will not be affected by these changes.

Alexa Jurado reports on the University of South Carolina for The State. She is originally from suburban Chicago and recently graduated from Marquette University. Alexa has previously written for publications in Illinois and Wisconsin.

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