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University of Virginia raises minimum wage

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The University of Virginia said Thursday that it will pay all full-time, benefits-eligible employees in its academic division and medical center at least $15 an hour, beginning Jan. 1.

The wage adjustment will raise the pay of 1,400 full-time, benefits-eligible employees, who account for about 60 percent of university workers now earning less than $15 an hour.

The university said it is considering how to address wages for the remaining 40 percent of full-time workers making less than $15 an hour, who are employed by contractors. 

“As a university, we should live our values — and part of that means making sure that no one who works at U.Va. should live in poverty,” U.Va. President Jim Ryan said in a message to the university community.

Ryan said extending the $15 commitment to contract employees “is legally and logistically more complicated, but our goal is to make it happen.”

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Raising wages for the 1,400 workers will cost U.Va. about $3.5 million per year, the university said.

U.Va.’s lowest-paid employees now make at least $12.75 per hour. The wage increase to $15 an hour will increase their annual gross pay by more than $4,500.

The university’s academic division and medical center employ more than 17,400 full-time, benefits-eligible workers.

The university is following the lead of a number of cities and states in raising its minimum wage. The group includes Charlottesville and the District of Columbia. Duke University and the University of California also have implemented higher minimum wages.

In addition, the U.Va. Community Working Group established by Ryan in October last week identified jobs and wages as being among the university’s most pressing issues.

Ryan said the wage increase is just a first step in the university’s efforts to address issues identified by the working group.

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