NYU announced yesterday it’s raising the minimum wage for campus workers to $15 an hour. That brings it in line with Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo’s efforts to raise the minimum wage for state and city workers. Oliver Arnoldi headed downtown to ask NYU students what they think about the raise.
ARNOLDI : A stone’s throw from the NYU campus in the Village, I sit down for coffee with Katie Shane of the NYU Labor Movement and she is all smiles.
ARNOLDI : Why are you so happy this morning?
SHANE : We won fifteen yesterday. To be the first private school in the country to do this is a huge deal.
ARNOLDI : 15 is the campaign led by Shane’s group to raise the minimum wage of NYU undergraduate student workers from nine to fifteen dollars over the next three years. Next year, the minimum will be 12 dollars. NYU confirmed the raise last night, and it’s a decision that’s making plenty of students happy.
HAYES : I think it’s beautiful, I love it, it’s a good idea.
GILARDI : I’ll be happy to get three dollars more an hour than I used to so I’m not complaining.
ARNOLDI : That’s freshman Kailyn Hayes and junior Al Gilardi, who work together on the circulation desk in the basement of NYU’s Bobst library. But upstairs, not everyone’s completely satisfied, like Raveena Vakil.
VAKIL :Oh, we’re getting a wage increase, it’s gonna be awesome. But it’s gonna take three years for it to get to the 15 dollars. So I think it could be done a little faster.
ARNOLDI :What are you gonna do with the extra three dollars?
VAKIL :Three dollars, you can’t really do much with that. You know, you can get like…maybe like a coffee.
ARNOLDI : Vakil has a point. An undergraduate degree at NYU costs around $75,000 a year. That, on top of living in one of the country’s most expensive cities, means that it could still be hard for NYU students to get by.
LIGHTFELDT :It can still be quite challenging to find affordable units, even at 15 dollars an hour.
ARNOLDI : Alan Lightfeldt is a data scientist at Street Easy, a New York Real Estate Agency. When it comes to housing, NYU students have to make a choice: they either take in more roommates, or move to the outer boroughs. NYU has housing for its students? Not sure real estate is best angle here. But like for many New Yorkers,
LIGHTFELDT :These are trade-offs that the lowest paid have to make every day.
ARNOLDI : The NYU raise comes in the middle of a bigger push by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise the State minimum wage to $15. The legislature will vote on the State budget next week. But back at NYU, Shane sees the struggle of her university, and that of other activists across the city and state, as sharing common missions.
SHANE :Our campaign wouldn’t have worked if we hadn’t had the support of workers in the community, and so we’re going to support them until they get what they need as well.
ARNOLDI : For the time being, NYU student workers can anticipate enjoying a little more money, and an extra cup of coffee. I think this is a little dismissive it’s not $3 total, but $3 per hour – you could offer that as a weekly rate or annualize it. But it’s more than a cup of coffee.
Oliver Arnoldi, Columbia Radio News.