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University of Memphis to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour

UofM President Dr. M. David Rudd makes announcement to faculty and staff.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Tuesday evening, University of Memphis President Dr. David Rudd announced to university faculty and staff that starting June 2021, the minimum wage for employees will be raised to $15 per hour.

Here is the email that was sent to the university's faculty and staff:

"This past year we faced challenges across every domain of University operations. As the result of COVID-19, we were forced to reevaluate our financial model, implement central administrative reductions and streamline operations consistent with dramatic reductions in workload demands in many areas.

Throughout these difficult times, we have maintained a firm commitment to raising our minimum wage in a responsible and sustainable manner, along with providing a comprehensive benefits package to include quality health care for all of our employees. Over the past seven years, we have made good progress and promised to do more, but only if it did not require shifting costs to students by raising tuition and related educational expenses. 

As a reminder, some of the steps taken this past year included:

  • a hiring freeze, allowing only critical employment actions to move forward;
  • steps to improve efficiency and operational costs across units with marked reductions in demands;
  • and strategic management of attrition.

Given the hard work of so many on our campus, we have been able to develop and implement a sustainable financial model, one that will allow us to raise the minimum wage for all of our University employees to $15 per hour effective the bi-weekly pay period beginning June 5, 2021, and do so without shifting the burden to students through tuition increases.

I am more confident than ever that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger and are now in a position to honor our commitment to increasing our minimum wage.

Thank you for your continued hard work and your commitment to our students, University and community."


(NEWS RELEASE) - On Tuesday, University of Memphis President Rudd emailed all campus workers announcing a commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour effective June 5, 2021. Union and community members have been campaigning for a living wage for years. The lowest paid workers who will see a raise include custodians and other physical plant workers who have been on the front lines of keeping campus open and clean during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have been working on this since 2017 and it’s finally here," said Doris Brooks-Conley and Thelma Jean Rimmer, long-time custodians and leaders in United Campus Workers. "I’m so overwhelmed I don’t have words, I’m glad for my coworkers and all they have gone through and never gave up.”

Meghan Cullen, UCW VP of the University of Memphis Chapter, said, "Over the past three years the University community has made a point to demand economic justice for its lowest paid workers. In addition to the tremendous advocacy by the union, the Faculty and Staff Senate called for a raise to a $15/hour minimum wage in a joint resolution in 2018. I am grateful that the University’s administration has heard our demand and taken action."

The announcement comes as front line workers all over the country are calling for hazard pay due to increased health and safety risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Campus workers and community supporters celebrated the news and will be watching for President Rudd to uphold his word and enact the raise in June.

Anne Langendorfer, UCW President and a lecturer at the University of Tennessee, said, "UCW has been fighting for $15/hour for a really long time. It's about time and we are thrilled that University of Memphis workers fought for what they deserve. We look forward to other higher education institutions joining the universities in Memphis in paying them what they deserve."

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