USM Raises Minimum Wage for Campus Employees

Protestors marching from Shoemaker Square. Photo| Sean Smith

By: Kyra Lampley

The University of Southern Mississippi is raising the minimum pay for campus workers 2 weeks after labor union, United Campus Workers, held a protest on campus advocating for a $15 hourly wage. 

Although this new wage is not what workers requested, the minimum hourly wage of $10.10 will be increased to $11.25.

Employees eligible for benefits who were hired prior to Jan. 1 will receive a 3 percent pay increase, with limited exceptions as detailed in an email sent to faculty and staff by Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett. He wrote that the university was not able to devote institutional funds needed to raise the campus minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Photo| Sean Smith

“A multi-year plan would be required to make an adjustment of that size for all categories of employees,” Bennett wrote. “Although I am unable to commit future institutional funds outside of what was made possible by this year’s additional legislative allocation, I am pleased that we were able to make meaningful progress in raising the minimum hourly rate for benefit-eligible employees to $11.25 per hour.” 

The pay increases will go into effect July 1 for salaried staff and 12-month faculty, July 9 for hourly staff and Sept. 1 for nine-month faculty.

Samuel Ewing, a part time instructor who helped organize the protest, said that he hopes the pay raise will persuade more faculty and staff to get involved with UCW, which continues to push for the $15 per hour wage.

“This is a huge victory for all working people at this university. It demonstrates that organizing isn’t just our right as working people, but that it actually works,” Ewing said. [via Mississippi Today]

USM President Rodney Bennett with protestors. Photo| Sean Smith

An additional plan for grad assistants has been approved as their stipends will increase by $1,500 per year for the next three years, beginning in the fall 2022 semester. The goal of this initiative is to raise graduate assistant stipends to $11,700.

The raise is due to allocation of funds by the Mississippi Legislature and planned adjustments in grad assistant stipends.

“I am very proud of how far we have come as an institution with regard to faculty and staff compensation, and I again want to thank University Human Resources as well as each dean, director and department head who is actively engaged in this important work,” Bennett said.