The Matador bookstore is one of many places on campus where minimum wage workers will receive an increase in their earnings beginning in January 2007.
On Sept. 12, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1835, which will give the 1 million minimum wage workers in California increases over a two-year period.
California’s minimum wage is currently set at $6.75. On Jan. 1, it will become $7.50 and increase to $8 one year later.
Minimum wage workers in California are predominantly adults who are the primary breadwinners in an average household of three people.
College students will benefit from the increase as well, however, especially with the climbing costs of higher education and high living expenses, said Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-San Jose, the author of AB 1835.
“College students predominantly earn over minimum wage,” Lieber said in a phone interview.
“Even they can’t live off it either,” she said. “(Tuition) fees over the past three years have gone up dramatically. If we expect (student workers) to pay higher fees, they need to have some way to do that.”
The Matador bookstore, which is owned by the Follett Corporation, hires workers based on the minimum wage set by California.
Other salary rates depend on experience.
The bookstore does not hire federal work-study students since it is a privately owned company, said Amy Berger, director of the Matador bookstore.
“I think it’s great people at minimum wage will be able to make more money,” Berger said of the minimum wage increase.
Approximately 30 students work at the bookstore at various salary rates, said Berger.
“We have a number of employees not making minimum wage,” said Berger. “There are a number of opportunities to grow within the bookstore.”
Berger said she started as a temporary textbook clerk for the Follett Corporation and has been with the company for 16 years.
Workers have the opportunity to increase their salary through promotions and merit increases, which are based on how well they are doing in their position, Berger said.
One student, who asked that her name be withheld since it is against company policy to speak with the media, said she has been working as a cashier at the bookstore for almost a year.
“I am slightly above minimum wage now,” said the student, who also works at the University Student Union.
“I still don’t make $7,” she said.
The student said workers are evaluated every April by supervisors and then asked to complete an online survey to evaluate them on their work performance. The amount of the raise is at a manager’s discretion.
“A friend of mine who has worked in the bookstore for four years received 22 cents this year in August, but three years ago, they only gave her a three-cent increase,” the student said.
The student said even with annual merit increases, it is still hard to manage money on a minimum wage salary.
“I live with my parents so my living expenses are paid,” said the student.
“Gas prices make it hard to manage money since I commute every day. I paid $600 for my textbooks this semester. There’s no money left to manage,” she said.
The student said she has to work at least 15 hours at the bookstore and cannot miss work in order to have a decent paycheck. The USU pays her a higher salary, but offers her fewer hours.
Many students find it beneficial to work at the bookstore, which offers flexible work hours and employee discounts, Berger said.
The student said flexibility is one reason why she continues to work at the bookstore.
“It’s very hard to find other jobs that will work around your school schedule,” said the student.
No information could be given regarding how much the minimum wage increase would cost the bookstore, Berger said.
“We haven’t done any calculations,” she said.
Joe Skaggs, vice president of brand, marketing and sales for Follett, said the minimum wage increase would not be reflected in textbook costs.
“Textbook costs are under agreement with Cal State Northridge,” Skaggs said.
The Follett Corporation operates 67 bookstores in California, including stores at Pepperdine University, Loyola Marymount University and California State University, Dominguez Hills.