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Berkeleyan

Birgeneau: '...the right thing to do at this time...'

This memo from the chancellor, announcing an increase in the "baseline wage" for Berkeley's lowest-paid career employees, was sent to senior campus administrators on Thursday, April 20.

Following a thorough examination of the issues surrounding employee wages, and with the support of the Cabinet, the Committee on Academic Planning and Resources Allocation (CAPRA), students, and three of our employee unions, I have determined that the baseline wage for career and limited employees on our campus will increase to $11.25 per hour, effective April 1, 2006.

The impact of this change will be to raise the hourly wages of approximately 180 employees, primarily in food service, along with a small number of staff in other service-related and clerical positions, by up to 20 percent. While these are not the only campus employees who face challenges with the Bay Area's high cost of living, they represent the lowest-paid among our workforce. These are the employees described in the 2004 report by campus graduate students on wages and working conditions at Berkeley.

The Office of Human Resources has notified control-unit administrators and human-resources managers in the affected units and will provide instructions on implementing these rate increases, as well as guidance on communicating with employees about the increases. Because of the need to enter individual changes manually into the systems that manage human resources and payroll transactions, it is likely that the increases will be reflected in June paychecks, retroactive to April 1. 

More than 50 percent of the employees receiving increases are in Residential and Student Service Programs units within Student Affairs, with the rest distributed among Facilities Services, Administration, Research, and EVCP. Because many of these positions are not supported by state funding, the units will need to identify resources to fund the increases. This may require difficult budgetary decisions; however, I believe that the decision to increase these employees' salaries is the right thing to do at this time. In the case of food service workers, for example, the entry rate was previously $9.39 per hour; increasing the hourly wages for these employees to $11.25 can make a significant difference in their ability to manage family and other living obligations.

I would like to express my gratitude for the collaboration and support of the faculty, students, staff, and union representatives in reaching this milestone. While we continue to face serious challenges in the recruitment and retention of both faculty and staff at Berkeley, we must not be deterred by the difficulty of moving forward. By approaching this issue in good faith, we have made a significant beginning. . . .

Robert J. Birgeneau
Chancellor