Campus News

New committee will examine wages being paid to university employees

The University Council has authorized the creation of a study committee to examine the issue of wages paid to university employees, particularly those at the low end of the wage scale.

The council’s action at its March 23 meeting was prompted by a request to the council’s Executive Committee from two local organizations, the Economic Justice Coalition of Athens and the UGA Living Wage Network, to endorse a “proposal for family supportive wages and benefits on behalf of the lowest wage earners of the University of Georgia.”

The proposal says low-paid UGA employees “need to work two or three jobs to pay their minimum bills,” and calls on UGA to pay hourly workers a minimum of $10.50 per hour, offer “substantial” health benefits to employees who work more than 20 hours weekly for more than three months and provide health benefits to low-paid workers on a sliding-scale fee basis.

Nancy Felson, chair of the council Executive Committee, said the committee recommended an ad hoc committee be formed to study the proposal and report back to the council this fall. She said the study committee will include university staff members; the associate vice president for human resources; the directors of physical plant and food services; and representatives of units with large numbers of manual workers.

In other action, the council gave final approval for revision of an article in the University Statutes governing the university president’s power to veto council actions. Under the revision, if the president believes a council action must be reviewed by the University System Board of Regents, the president must inform the council’s Executive Committee within four weeks of any communication with the regents concerning the action.

Under the proposal, a regents’ decision that a council action violates regents’ policy would automatically veto the action. If the regents do not object to a council action in six months, the action would become UGA policy unless the president vetoed it, in which case the council could appeal the veto to the regents.

The council also approved creation of an interdisciplinary Health and Risk Communication Center that will bring together faculty from a number of departments and programs. The center will focus on the relationship between communication and health, health attitudes and beliefs, and health behavior.