Student-employee minimum wage increases following maximum hour cut

Student-employees+who+get+paid+through+Oakland+University+for+on-campus+jobs+receive+their+paychecks+form+the+cashiers+office+in+North+Foundation+Hall.+The+student-employee+minimum+wage+will+rise+from+%248.50+to+%249.25%2C+effective+August+29.%C2%A0

Student-employees who get paid through Oakland University for on-campus jobs receive their paychecks form the cashier’s office in North Foundation Hall. The student-employee minimum wage will rise from $8.50 to $9.25, effective August 29. 

Paige Brockway, Editor-in-Chief

“Effective August 29, all current Oakland University student employee minimum wage pay rates will increase from $8.50 to $9.25 per hour,” Director of Financial Aid Cindy Hermsen wrote in an email to students on May 16.

This decision comes on the heels of an announcement that maximum student-employee hours are being cut from 25 hours to 20 hours during the fall and winter semesters, in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act, as discussed in a previous Oakland Post article.

The Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) worked with administration to actively push for the minimum wage increase, which Student Body President Zack Thomas hopes will offset the issues caused by the maximum hour cut.

“Although we could not legally change it back to 25 hours because of the ACA, we still are able to get the money back in the form of a wage increase,” Thomas said.

The state of Michigan requires that student-employee minimum wage be raised to $8.90 per hour in January 2017 and $9.25 per hour in January 2018. As Hermsen pointed out in her email, “Oakland University is advancing to the $9.25 per hour rate approximately 16 months earlier than required by the state.”

“Our thinking was that we’d help students be able to plan and afford the cost of attendance at Oakland. Listening to students, particularly representatives from Student Congress Zack [Thomas] and Anders [Engnell], we thought it would be in the best interest of the students to move it forward,” said Glenn McIntosh, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs.

As pointed out by Thomas in a post on the OUSC Facebook Page, another important part of the deal is that university departments compensating their employees at the minimum wage will receive increased labor budgets, meaning that employment levels will not be affected.

Thomas said the decision was handed down from President George Hynd, but McIntosh was also a key player in the decision to raise the student minimum wage.

“My role is to really listen to students and to be there for them and to advocate for student needs – and wants,” McIntosh said.

The discussion between the OUSC and OU administrators has been going on since the maximum hour cut was announced at the end of March. Thomas said the OUSC pushed for several different resolutions to the cut, and the increased minimum wage ended up being the best solution.

“It took talking to the right people consistently, persistently,” Thomas said.

Administrators including Hermsen, Payroll Manager George Leaver, Director of Budget and Financial Planning Michele Knox and Assistant Vice President of University Human Resources Ron Watson attended OUSC general body meetings in April and May, where concerns were voiced regarding the OUSC’s desire to be more involved in decisions that impact students.

“Over the course of time, as administrators, we learn from students,” McIntosh said. “So, when we get into those types of forums, we listen, we extract information from students, we listen to them to see if they have alternative thoughts on policies, procedures, programs and services. Then, we take that information back to our colleagues and we try to come up with an effective approach to address any issues.”

McIntosh said he hopes that the resolution to raise the student-employee minimum wage is the “kick-off” for better future collaboration between students and faculty.

“I would say through this ordeal that our student body should feel confident that they have competent leadership in Student Congress this year because they pushed and were relentless in making sure that we explored every option possible on this issue,” McIntosh said.

Questions or concerns regarding the minimum wage increase can be directed to the Student Financial Services office at (248) 270-2550 or [email protected] Students are also welcome to visit the OUSC office at 62 Oakland Center or email [email protected]

The next OUSC general body meeting will be held June 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, 49 Oakland Center.