Concerns raised even after UT raises minimum wage

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees discussed its wage increase Friday at a board meeting, but some workers said the change is coming too late.

Anne Langendorfer works in the English department at UT and said the pandemic has shown an increase in the cost of living in Knox County.

Langendorfer said, “Wages are going up very quickly in our community here and when we don’t have enough people to take care of buildings.”

She said the new minimum wage for UT employees is a good start, but not livable. According to living wage data from MIT, in Knox County, it is livable for someone with no children. As soon as you include children, though, the cost of living doubles making the $15 an hour wage not livable.

Langendorfer said, “We really want the workers to sit at the table with decision-makers about salary every year; about salary compression.”

UT President Randy Boyd said this increase in pay will make it better and more competitive to work at UT.

Boyd said, “We want to continue to improve the benefits, compensation and overall quality of life for all of our employees. I think it’s something we’ve done a good job with the last 3 years.”

For most employees at UTK, their wages won’t see a large increase. UTK raised its minimum wage for full-time employees to $13 an hour back in May.

President Boyd said that’s a positive having another wage increase in just over 7 months.

“We want UT, Knoxville or any of our campuses, to be the place of choice for people in the community,” Boyd said.

The 2022 pay increase isn’t just for low-wage workers. President Boyd said employees with payscales above $15 an hour will also see pay increases.

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