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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

University wage increase takes effect

Notre Dame implemented a new wage structure beginning Aug. 1. 

The pay raise for all employees includes a 3% raise for eligible faculty and staff, a new starting rate of $17.50 for hourly employees and a $15 starting rate for student employees. 

The pay raises follow April increases in the starting rate for non-exempt staff to $15 and student workers to $11. 

The latest change was announced in late July through emails sent to members of the Notre Dame community. 

“We’re making a historic investment in all of our people,” executive vice president Shannon Cullinan said in a video posted to the University’s human resources website. “At the heart of who we are is our people.”

Going even further than the new student wages, Hesburgh Libraries has increased its starting wage to $16, and other positions on campus — like research — have gone further still. 

Last semester, students and faculty organized under the Raising the Standard campaign (RSC), calling on Notre Dame to adopt a “just wage structure.” 

Bridget Schippers, codirector of the RSC, said the University’s recent announcement was something to be celebrated. 

“Something that was really exciting in the report that the University put out … was that they said it is our duty as a Catholic university to support our workers and to show that dignity of work,” Schippers said. “Having them recognize that was a huge win in our book because it shows us we are more than just a bare-minimum employer.”

Nonetheless, Schippers said the announcement came as a surprise. 

“I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say we didn't expect to see that tangible of results so quickly. Like, that was what we hoped for, and we were working really hard for it,” she said.

The RSC and others have pointed out that Notre Dame is South Bend’s largest employer, and South Bend is a community where 23% of residents live in poverty. 

University spokesperson Dennis Brown said the pay increase is in recognition of the work Notre Dame staff do.

“These increases are in appreciation for the perseverance of and contributions by faculty and staff and their service to serve our students, as well as the broader community, the Church and the world,” Brown said in an email.

Schippers said that while the pay raises are a major victory, she hopes that in the future, it won’t require advocacy to ensure employees across campus receive a just wage.

In its spring proposal, the RSC presented several policies to this end, including an employment board that would have staff appointments. 

The RSC has also advocated for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to be built into the wage structure. With a COLA in place, wages would increase as the cost of living increases for employees.

“It's shocking to me that we don't have a COLA as a university, because it's not a super brand-new, novel idea. My high school back at home has one,” Schippers said.

Staff across campus, from faculty to student workers, are now receiving bigger paychecks. While inflation and the global economy have contributed to affordability challenges for these employees, the University says that this recent raise is a moral investment. 

“Investing in the faculty, staff and students who work at Notre Dame is part and parcel of the University's mission to be a force for good in the world,” Brown said.

Isa Sheikh

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