Min. wage upped state wide

by Beacon Staff • September 20, 2006

The bill approving the wage hike, passed on July 31 by Massachusetts legislators, will make workers in the state among the highest paid in the country.,The minimum wage in Massachusetts will be raised 75 cents to $7.50 per hour, effective Jan. 1, and will be raised once again to $8.00 per hour in 2008.

The bill approving the wage hike, passed on July 31 by Massachusetts legislators, will make workers in the state among the highest paid in the country.

Speculation that work-study employment opportunities throughout Emerson may be negatively affected by the increase is unfounded, according to Emerson Director of Financial Services Michelle Smith.

Although the Emerson work-study budget was finalized before the new mandatory wages were set in June, Smith has yet to hear of a conflict because of the salary hike overlap.

"As far as I have been informed, there has been no reduction in the number of student employment opportunities on campus," Smith said. "The college has already instituted this increase, starting for the fall semester instead of waiting for January."

Smith said that the budgets will be adjusted based on need.

"Each employer has the option to work with the Business and Finance Office if they need an increase to their department budget to pay students," she said.

The Office of Admissions, which employs 42 students per year, has taken the same initiative to increase pay before the new wage is set.

"We've already given them all a 25-cent raise," said Assistant Director of Admissions Sara Brookshire. "New students will start at $7.75, and each semester, they'll earn their standard 25-cent raise. This hasn't been a problem for us by any means. We're just working with what the law is."

Library and Media Services Center Director Mickey Zemon also reported no problems hiring or retaining any of the 38 student employees and work-study recipients this semester due to the new law.

Senior Ken Arpino, a performing arts major who works at the Office of Admissions, had previously heard the wage increase could negatively affect student employees.

"I've heard of it, but it didn't change anything for me," Arpino said. "I have the same amount of hours and I got my semester raise, too."

Junior Matt Bush was unaware that the new minimum wage was in conflict with the new budget.

"I have two jobs on campus and this hasn't come up yet," Bush said.

Emerson departments employing work-study students pay 25 percent of Federal Work Study salaries.

The remaining 75 percent of the wages, which are given to the school in March, is paid by the federal government.

Smith said that student employees and work-study recipients would be wholly accommodated.

"Students that were making below the new minimum wage amount will see an increase of higher wages," she said. "The college is committed to the student employment program."