berea college

In his daily update on Monday, President Lyle Roelofs announced Berea College will increase its minimum wage from $14 per hour for all benefits-eligible, non-temporary employees starting August 16.

"This decision is intended to impact and benefit primarily our lowest-paid employees, whose services in keeping up our campus grounds and buildings, protecting the safety of our students, and caring for the children of our employees and students were and continue to be crucial to the successful operation of our college throughout the pandemic," Roelofs said.

Those most impacted by this decision include the college's workers with the lowest salary and typically people who are new hires or who came in with less experience.

These people are most likely in-person employees and people Berea College paid an additional $25 a day to work during the pandemic.

Despite that increase stopping on June 30, the college decided to make the change permanent with this wage raise.

The increase in pay will change the health insurance policies these employees receive but not for a while. According to Roelofs, the college's insurance policies operate under a sliding scale. The people being paid the lowest will pay the least in monthly payments or deductibles while the opposite is true for the highest-paid employees. However, since the scale is determined each fiscal year, nothing will change at this time.

Employees making $14 an hour or more can also expect an increase in their wages to avoid salary compression while others can expect a raise in the next year, according to Roelofs.

This is not the first time Berea College moved the minimum wage. Nearly a decade ago, the administration raised their minimum wage to $10, $2.75 more than the federal amount.

It is a mission close to Roelofs' heart.

"I have long been committed to the concept of a living wage for full-time work," the president said.

There is room for growth as well. Roelofs criticized the starting wages, "Starting wages have increased a bit, too, but but they haven't increased enough to reflect our real commitment to rewarding all employees fairly."

There may be an additional pay raise in the future. According to Roelofs, the Administrative Committee and the Board of Trustees will determine if another pay increase is possible in the next fiscal year, or July 1, 2022.

However, many factors go into making feats like this possible like ensuring high-quality education with no tuition.

"Finances are never easy at Berea College," Roelofs said.

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