June 3, 2014
Duquesne University has raised the minimum wage for its employees to $15 an hour as part of a plan to increase wages for its lowest-paid workers, the university announced.
The wage increase, effective July 1, affects about 100 non-contract employees at Duquesne University, which has a total workforce of about 2,100, including about 1,600 full-time and about 500 part-time employees.
“This will only impact those who are already at the bottom of our pay scale. Lifting the minimum of course means lifting the bottom,” Charles Dougherty, university president, told NCR. “Everybody got a raise this year. But nobody got the kind of raise that the people who were making minimum wage got.”
The minimum wage rise will not apply to faculty, who are contract employees and aren’t paid per hour, to students who work on campus, nor to the approximate 390 contract workers who run Duquesne’s dining services and bookstore.
He said the idea to increase wages came from the university cabinet, Duquesne’s leadership group, which includes Dougherty and six vice presidents. The all-university representative budget committee supported the plan and the university board of directors approved it.
A major influence on raising the minimum wage was the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Spiritans, a Roman Catholic religious order that emphasizes “outreach to the poor and those who are in marginal situations,” according to Dougherty. “So when we do our strategic planning, and think about what we are as a university and where we’re heading, we always bear that in mind; that shapes our view of our pay scale.”
The Spiritans founded Duquesne, their only U.S. university, in 1878, as Pittsburgh Catholic College. Two Spiritan priests serve on the cabinet: Fr. Sean Hogan, executive vice president for student life, and Fr. Raymond French, vice president for mission and identity. The Spiritan corporation that owns the university also approved the budgets that allowed for the wage increases.
Dougherty said, “We want to be sure that, first, we’re being just to our least well-paid employees and their families. And second, and this is also a strongly Catholic notion that comes of course partly from the Spiritans … this really helps encourage the development of a strong sense of community.”