Your story about Senate Bill 376 paints a misleading impression about the University of California’s opposition to this legislation. The bill would not only mandate higher wages for contract workers at UC, a step the university already has taken in paying wages above state and federal levels, but would require that these workers be accorded full benefits — changes in policy that would be out of step with any other state agency.
In July, UC President Janet Napolitano announced a plan to raise to $15 an hour the minimum wage for all workers hired to work at least 20 hours a week. The first phase of this initiative takes effect on October 1 when all such workers, including those hired by contractors, will earn at least $13 an hour. By fall 2016, that will rise to $14 an hour and by 2017 to $15 an hour.
The University of California is the first public university in the nation to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of $15 an hour and is at the forefront of efforts to treat workers fairly and equitably.
What SB 376 would mandate, however, is that UC — and only UC — ensure that contractors provide full benefits to their workers, the cost of which would be passed on to the university. The financial and administrative burden of doing such would increase UC’s costs by tens of millions of dollars annually at a time when the university is working hard to keep tuition low and reduce administrative costs.
Rachael Nava is executive vice president and chief operating officer for the University of California Office of the President.