AARON SKUBBY, Editor-in-Chief—All regular employees will soon receive a starting wage of $15 an hour, according to Vice President of Finance & Management David English.

According to English, the increased starting wage was in discussion before the COVID-19 pandemic began. “We routinely assess and increase our starting wages. The increase that will go into effect in July 2021 is simply a larger-than-normal increase. Denison began to discuss raising our minimum wage to $15.00 in summer of 2019 in response to the growing national movement to increase minimum wages, inflation we were seeing in our local Columbus area for starting wages and, most importantly, our desire to provide a strong starting wage for the staff who are so important to what we do,” English said.

A message from English was emailed to staff on April 9 telling them that the increased starting wage will take effect on July 1, 2021. Employees making close to $15 an hour currently will have their pay adjusted as well in order to avoid wage compression.

Wages have been a hot topic on campus lately, with calls for better working conditions and compensation for both students and staff. The topic of working conditions for Building Service Associates was brought to the forefront after an article in the Bullsheet by former BSA Joshua Gringas detailed his poor experiences working as a BSA.

Gringas expressed his thoughts following the wage increase. “I think it’s a good start, but I don’t know,” he said. “I’d be curious to hear what the BSAs raising children or helping dependents think, or the BSAs on state or federal programs that help with food or healthcare costs think,” he said.

Although wages have been a recent topic on campus, English says that wage increases have been in discussion for a while. “We always listen to our community about their financial concerns and the pay of other local employers.  Regarding the $15.00 starting wage, we did have discussions with staff prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic delayed our planned start,” he said.

The wage increase will only apply to Denison employees, which excludes contracted employees such as those who work for Bon Appetit. “We’ve notified Bon Appetit about the change to Denison’s starting wage and Bon Appetit is analyzing what changes, if any, they will be able to accommodate,” English said.

In addition to wage increases for staff, the minimum wage for students has been raised to $10 an hour according to an email from VP for Student Development Alex Miller. This comes following activism by students, primarily through the denison Labor Organizing Committee, who have called for an $11 minimum wage. 

Gringas highlighted the value he sees in organizing efforts on campus. “In terms of changes to be made, I think the student workers have the right idea with the labor committee,” Gringas said. “I think BSAs might need some displays of solidarity to make it happen, but they deserve to have their own too, and to explore their options and actions as a collective,” he said.