In a move that reflected growing momentum on campus, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student council introduced legislation Wednesday to increase the wages of all student worker positions to $15 an hour. The introduction of this legislation is in response to the Wisconsin Union and UW Housing & Dining increasing their minimum wage to $15 an hour in late August.
“The current situation on campus within student employers is a scramble to find funding to raise wages to adequately find employees,” the joint resolution from the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) read.
The resolution also said ASM spent a large portion of last year speaking to administrators about raising campus wages to what they called a “living” wage of $15 an hour. In response to these requests, ASM said they received agreements from UW Housing & Dining, RecWell and Wisconsin Union to raise wages incrementally over the next few years.
Last year, student jobs’ minimum wage increased to $12, which was $10.50 at the beginning of the academic year.
This formal legislation would amend the student wage policy to $15 an hour for all jobs and would go into effect at the beginning of the 2024 fiscal year. The legislation leaves no room for incremental increases spread out over multiple years, and would be a big victory for an organization that has been trying to secure an agreement for a $15 minimum wage across all student jobs for years.
At Wednesday’s meeting, ASM also announced their official membership with the University of Wisconsin System Student Governance Association (UWSSGA) and ratified their constitution by a 18-2 vote.
According to the association’s constitution, the UWSSGA exists to “represent the interests of the students of the University of Wisconsin System in the governance of the system and the state,” and works with all facets of the UW System to “provide the best possible university environment and educational experience for students of the System.”
“It’s a really big accomplishment, a lot of people helped with this from many other schools and I’m really excited to see where this goes,” said ASM Legislative Affairs Committee Chair MGR Govindarajan. “I’m expecting the other schools to ratify this and I’ll be working closely to see where they’re at with this and if they’re ratifying this as well. This is a very big deal for student government across the state.”
ASM also critiqued the UW System for changing the schedule of the distribution of segregated fees for the 2023-24 school year. Segregated fees are charges assessed to students for student services, activities, programs and facilities on campus.
These fees, the council wrote, “constitute substantial support for campus student activities,” including UHS, the Wisconsin Union, bus passes, other transportation services and the Child Care Tuition Assistance Program.
ASM called on the UW System to reverse their decision to move up the schedule of segregated fees and meet with student council and other student leadership at other UW campuses to discuss the issues of this change.