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UW to increase wages for lowest-earning employees

November 8, 2019

UW-Madison will increase the minimum wage for the university’s hourly employees to $15 per hour, effective in the spring of 2020.

The State of Wisconsin made a similar announcement today, Friday, Nov. 8.

The higher wage minimum will enable the university to compete more effectively for workers in tight labor markets and strengthen UW–Madison’s commitment to paying a fair wage to all employees.

“The increase in our minimum wage is a key part of our strategy for helping the university recruit and retain high-quality workers,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Employees who will benefit from this increase make important contributions to our teaching, research and outreach missions.”

Laurent Heller, vice chancellor for finance and administration, says UW–Madison has been developing innovative strategies to generate revenue that can be invested in the people all across the campus who help the university achieve its public mission. The cost of the move to a $15 per hour minimum is estimated at $1.1 million.

“UW-Madison strives to be the employer of choice in the Madison area. With this change, we’re recognizing both the competitive labor market and the hard and valuable work done by our dedicated staff,” Heller says.

UW-Madison is frequently in competition for workers with other public sector entities, including local school districts and municipalities. For example, the university’s Division of Housing has approximately 50 vacancies in positions with starting salaries of less than $15 per hour.

The increase in the university’s minimum wage will primarily affect workers in custodial, animal care and food-service positions. It will not affect temporary or student employees.

This is the latest action aimed at benefitting UW–Madison’s lowest-paid workers. In 2018, staff earning less than $15 per hour received an increase of 50 cents per hour. The university also raised the differential pay for employees working night and weekend shifts.

In addition, a general wage increase of 2 percent for the university’s faculty and staff will go into effect January 2020 as a result of the 2019-21 state pay plan, pending approval by the Legislature.