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Student Senate passes wage increase proposal

Unanimous vote pushes freshman secretary’s proposal to Faculty Senate

A proposal surrounding the compensation given to student workers at Tyler Junior College was passed through Student Senate on Feb. 7. The proposal, brought to the senate floor by Freshman Secretary Rachel Lowery, proposes student workers’ pay be changed from $7.25 an hour to $11.25 an hour.

“The most a student employee can make at Tyler Junior College is as a student assistant or work study at $7.25 an hour. The highest paying job on campus is a student tutor and they can make up to $9 an hour,” Lowery said in the Student Senate meeting, preceding the vote.

While the current minimum wage for student workers at TJC is set at the federal minimum wage, that federal wage was established at $7.25 an hour in 2009, according to dol.gov, and hasn’t changed since.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the current minimum wage should be $9.83 an hour to account for the inflation experienced since the establishment of the current federal minimum wage. But Lowery believes TJC’s minimum compensation should be higher than that adjusted wage, with the goal of gaining and retaining more student workers.

“A higher competitive pay would draw more students to apply,” according the proposal by Lowery.

Local Wages
Other colleges in Tyler, such as the University of Texas at Tyler, also follow the federal

minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. However, according to Handshake, the job site UT Tyler uses to post their student job applications, the average compensation given for part-time student jobs is $12.04 an hour.

Lowery also researched the businesses surrounding TJC and called to confirm their wage for part-time work. From those calls she found that almost all of them pay above minimum wage, and, according to Lowery, most pay over $10 an hour.

“The starting pay ranges, on average, from $10-$16 an hour. The starting pay for these places is higher than minimum wage,” Lowery said.

Lowery believes TJC should be in a competitive market with surrounding businesses and places of employment, and thus should pay similar rates.

“If Tyler Junior College were to set a wage that was high enough,” Lowery said. “Then the college would retain more trained employees and compete with outside employers for strong workers.”

Lowery brought up the issue of the limited funds given to departments to employ and compensate students. She brought up the potential problem of departments having to reduce their workers due to the increase of labor costs. In her proposal, however, Lowery asks that no workers be let go, and instead asks for a budget increase for the work study program.

Next Steps

This proposal was first brought up to Student Senate fall 2022 and was voted on Feb. 7. While at the initial meeting in fall 2022, there were some discussions by student delegates, all those in attendance on Feb. 7 voted in agreement, passing this proposal onto the Faculty Senate. If Faculty Senate approves the proposal, the proposal moves onto the Human Resources Department, who must also vote to approve or deny before setting the budget for the 2023-2024 school year.

Lowery’s full proposal can be found on Orgsync at tjc.edu. To keep updated on this story, attend Student Senate meetings, or follow @tjcdrumbeat on social media.

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