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Students to Benefit from Minimum Wage Raise

California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 10 into law on Sept. 25, a bill that will raise California’s minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016 with an intermediary raise to $9 per hour by 2015. The change will apply to students with any work-study or non work-study job at the 5Cs. 

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“The minimum wage increase applies to all employees in the state,” wrote Pomona College Director of Financial Aid Mary A. Booker in an e-mail to TSL. “There is no exemption because of the source of payment … Employers must follow labor laws—no exception.”

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While administrators and campus directors have not discussed the possible ramifications of the law in-depth, Booker said she does not expect the work-study allotment to change.

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“The current work study allotment of $2,500 has only been in place since the beginning of this academic year,” Booker said. “I highly doubt that we’ll raise it any time soon.”

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Booker also expressed concern about the possibility, however unlikely, of an increase in the allotment.

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“Over the course of their enrollment, at least 80 percent of the student body will work at some point, but work is just one component of the Pomona College experience,” Booker said. “Students are obligated to find a balance between earning money, academics, extracurricular activities, and other forms of student life. Raising the student allotment would risk trading off with one or all of these areas.”

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Booker said she does not expect the increased minimum wage to decrease the number of jobs available to students.

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Claremont McKenna College Director of Financial Aid Clint Gasaway also said he does not believe that the increased minimum wage will decrease the number of campus job opportunities.

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“The last time there was an increase in the minimum wage, the college adjusted student wage budgets accordingly,” Gasaway wrote in an e-mail to TSL.

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An increase in wages without a corresponding increase in the work-study allotment would allow students to earn their allotment in fewer hours of work. 

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Currently, most students on work study at Pomona earn between $8.25 per hour and $8.50 per hour; at that rate, they have to work about 300 hours per year to reach the maximum allotment of $2,500. With the implementation of the $9 per hour wage in 2015 and then the $10 per hour wage in 2016, students will only have to work around 277 hours per year and 250 hours per year, respectively.

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Currently, many students have a hard time earning the entire allotment. For example, Jasmine Lopez PO ’17, who works at the circulation desk at Honnold/Mudd Library for six hours each week, said that she will probably have to find a second job to earn the full allotment.

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“Getting $10 an hour would take off the pressure and stress of having to find another job,” Lopez said. “I would feel way more comfortable knowing that I’m making more money.”

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Camilo Vilaseca CM ’16, who works at the CMC Bike Shop for eight hours per week, shared a similar opinion. 

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“I don’t think I’ll be able to earn the full allotment, but I’ll be close,” he said. “I’ll probably end up making it up by offering to take someone else’s hours.”

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If the minimum wage reduces the number of hours he has to work to earn his allotment, Vilaseca said he will have more time to study and do homework.

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“It’s not only good for the economy, but for all student workers,” he said.

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