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SLU to Move Toward $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Nov. 17, 2020 

Dear University colleagues, 

Since mid-March, we have navigated this painful and disruptive pandemic together, as OneSLU. 

At SLU, we have always made efforts to ensure that even our lowest-paid employees are paid above federal and state mandates, and competitive with comparable workers at other employers. In addition, we maintain a rich benefits program to help provide for their needs beyond what wages offer. For example, our lowest-paid employees receive a health insurance subsidy that provides them with this critically important but expensive insurance at no cost to them. Nonetheless, it is clear to us that our efforts have not gone far enough. We need to do more to provide for the economic security of our lowest-paid workers. 

Today, I am announcing that, in partnership with University leadership, we will implement a plan over the next three years to ensure all full-time staff at the University will be paid a minimum of $15 per hour. This will be in effect no later than January 1, 2024. We will meet with the labor organizations that represent employees who are currently below $15 per hour to engage in the collective bargaining process on how best to achieve this shared goal. We will look to achieve this new minimum wage as quickly as possible, ideally sooner than our proposed timeline. 

The time, effort and care all of you have put into ensuring that our students have been able to come together in community and continue their learning on campus this semester has been amazing. Similarly, the exceptional efforts and courage of our healthcare workers to make sure our patients continue receiving the care they need has been inspiring. We are grateful for all of the hard work and sacrifices you have made, particularly those essential workers who continued to come on campus to serve our community. What we observed at SLU during these eight months of isolation, and what has been observed in general society, is that a significant amount of these essential services fall upon those employees at the lower end of our pay spectrum. 

The financial challenges facing higher education are well documented. We feel the increasing pressure to reduce costs while expanding services. These cost pressures make a change like the one we are undertaking difficult. We firmly believe, however, that this step is the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it. 

We are also evaluating when we can lift the moratorium on the pay increases and suspension of the 403(b) matching contributions that impact all employees. We don't yet have any answers or updates on those issues, but I want everyone to know we are working with the newly formed university budget committee and the board of trustees to discuss when it is prudent to reinstate these budget mitigations. 

Thank you to the many people who advocated for this change and shared care and concern for those who will be impacted by it. You demonstrated Cura Personalis in action and once again remind me of why I am blessed to serve at this great institution for and with you. 

Sincerely, 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.
President