ST. LOUIS — The minimum wage for full-time staff at St. Louis University will increase to $15 an hour by 2024, university officials said Tuesday.
"What we observed at SLU during these eight months of isolation, and what has been observed in general society, is that a significant amount of these essential services fall upon those employees at the lower end of our pay spectrum," President Fred Pestello wrote in a letter to the community.
University leaders will meet with employee unions to negotiate raises, with a goal of reaching $15 ahead of the three-year timeline, Pestello said. Service Employees International Union Local 1 started bargaining this week for a new contract for 150 SLU custodians and groundskeepers.
“Last year, SEIU Local 1 janitors across our region launched the fight for One St. Louis — $15 and good union jobs to make our region more equitable across racial lines. It’s clear our message is resonating, especially as essential janitors and custodians work hard to protect the public from COVID-19," SLU custodian Bertha Hollins said in a statement. "But the urgency of the rapidly worsening COVID-19 crisis means workers on the front lines of this pandemic cannot wait until 2024 for a $15 living wage."
The change comes after the university cut $60 million from its annual budget in June including a one-year suspension of matching contributions to faculty and staff retirement accounts. Merit raises scheduled for July 1 were also postponed. Pestello said discussions are underway for the possibility of reinstating those benefits.
A $15 minimum wage across the region was one of the recommendations of the Forward through Ferguson report to address racial and economic inequality. Campus staff at Washington University will be paid a $15 an hour minimum wage by July under a plan released last year.
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