ALESTLE VIEW: A higher minimum wage could mean loss of media

What seems great for most may be detrimental to others — small media publications are struggling as it is.

Around the country, talk of higher wages and cost-of-living is heavily debated. With the recent passing of a bill for higher wages in Illinois, controversy has sparked. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a bill raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025. The wage will go up one dollar each year until then.

Right now, Illinois’ minimum wage for those 18 and older is set at $8.25 per hour, and $4.95 for those who work for tips. At SIUE, policy states students can work up to 28 hours per week, but at The Alestle, our budget doesn’t even allow students to work these amounts.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Washington and now Illinois will be phasing in increases on wages, putting them at $12 to $15 per hour, according to National Employment Law Project.

In theory, this is great. Higher wages mean more money for consumers. At $8.25, it is difficult for anyone to live on that, especially college students going to school full-time. 

This is both good and bad for The Alestle. It’s great for future student employees like us because they will be making more money. 

The other side of the issue is that The Alestle is on a tight budget. 

As a small media organization, we receive most of our funding from student fees, and some comes from advertising in our paper, on our racks and online.

With the higher wage increase, we may have to cut staff. This is the reality we face that may hurt the integrity of what we do here. Student journalism a critical learning experience that should be a priority.

We haven’t  yet crunched the numbers, but we do know if we are struggling now, the Alestle will probably be struggling more so by 2025. 

As it stands, the increase could affect full-time employees, who are still working with the university on benefits and pay. Some student workers might make more than those in entry-level positions. Will the university take this into account and adjust salaries?

Also, the university started depending on student workers rather than hiring full-time employees. What will happen if the university has to cut down student worker positions in departments that rely heavily on them?

In “Minimum wage increase could have impact on students in the university,” Chancellor Randy Pembrook said student-worker positions are important and it is important to figure out how to not reduce any student worker positions. 

“We did an initial analysis of the minimum wage adjustment over time, and the largest impact for us at SIUE is on student workers because almost all of our full-time employees are above where the minimum wage threshold is going to end up as it’s phased implemented — so the largest part of the conversation on our campus is around student workers,” Pembrook said.

We want the increase to work, and we want workers to be able to live comfortably. We want the single mom to be able to take care of her child, and we want the student working two jobs to have a home to come back to every day. 

Big financial bills like this are more than that. They affect everyone differently. It will be great for most people, but we hope people will try to do the research and take the impact on others into account. 

We can fight this by taking action. If we buy local papers and support those in the community, they won’t be hurting as much financially. We should do it because we recognize the raise’s impact and want to help out those affected by the change.

(1) comment

Erin Shamley

"We haven’t yet crunched the numbers," but... "we hope people will try to do the research and take the impact on others into account."

This seems lazy. Why put out an article about the negative affects of higher wages with no figures to justify those worries? "We hope other people will do the research, but we can't be bothered?"

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