Minimum wage going up? Not Here

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Missouri Western has decided not to raise minimum wage for student workers as of now despite Proposition B being passed back on Nov. 6.

Missouri Western sent out an email to a select faculty members saying, ““With the recent passage of Proposition B, we have received a lot of questions about the minimum wage increase which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Missouri state statutes exempt government employees from the increase, so Missouri Western will continue with current compensation rates since our fiscal year budgets are already set through June 30, 2019. This gives us time to examine the effects of the minimum wage increase and determine what is feasible for the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget.” The faculty members who received this email were asked to send this message out to the student workers.

Vice President of Financial Planning and Administration Cale Fessler summed up the email saying that the fiscal budget for the year had already been set, and if the school had increased minimum wage, they would’ve had to cut some students from their positions or lower their hours. Fessler also stated that sending the email out instead of addressing the student body seemed like the best avenue at the time and wasn’t intended to upset students.

“It certainly was never the intention from the university’s perspective to offend or keep individuals in the dark, students or otherwise,” Fessler said.

Many students have already voiced their concerns about the university’s stance on minimum wage and voiced their disappointment on how the situation was handled. Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Douglas Davenport says that the university never intended to make the students feel unappreciated by the news and how it was delivered.

“I guarantee you that it wasn’t the intent to make the students feel ether unappreciated or ignored,” Davenport said. “We always want to try to do what’s right for our students. This is occurring in the middle of our budget cycle, so we don’t have additional funds that we can allocate out of our operations for this. It would’ve been a real challenge. More than likely, we would’ve had to cut hours or positions from students.”

There are about 500 students who work on campus.

Vice President of Student Affairs Shana Meyer explained at the Student Government Association meeting on Monday, Jan. 14 that the fiscal budget was the main reason why the university isn’t increasing the minimum wage.

“Tuition rates have already been set and we operate on a zero balance budget,” Meyer said. “Meaning, we don’t operate on a budget that has $600,000 laying around to be able to make changes to our budget.”

Fessler also explained that the university is a public employer which means they are exempt from following the new legislation regarding the increase in minimum wage.

“Because we are exempt, we put together an evaluation of the financial impact of the law,” Fessler said. “With our budget set for the year, as well as the state’s revenue, we made the determination to keep our wage steady. That does impact the student employees, as we were all aware, but we did make that decision to keep the wage steady for this year. However, as we start to look at the next budget year, we do plan to evaluate the viability of increasing the minimum wage. That will fall in line with all the other priorities that the university will have.”

As of now, the university has yet to decide if they will be raising minimum wage for student workers for the next school year. The fiscal year budget is set to be finished by the end of June and will state if the raise will be included.