Living Wage Initiative Boosts Hundreds of Employees

Illustration by Dave Cutler

Nearly 400 Colorado State employees – or 5 percent of the total campus workforce – received bumps in their base pay in Fall 2018 as part of the University’s Living Wage Initiative. The increases provide CSU’s lowest-paid employees with annual incomes of $30,000.

Employees benefiting from the increase include administrative assistants, animal care and laboratory support staff, custodial staff, dining services staff, materials handlers, and research associates.

The University will annually invest $1.15 million to fulfill the initiative, with the largest salary increase for a single employee amounting to $7,548 a year, officials said. Salary benchmarks were set with help from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator, a widely used tool, and data demonstrating that the cost of living in Fort Collins is 25 to 30 points higher than the national average.

“The Living Wage Initiative involved people across campus and is a source of pride for many of us at CSU,” Lynn Johnson, vice president for operations, said. “It is an important step for us as Northern Colorado’s largest employer.”

A total of 7,600 faculty and staff work at Colorado State University.

The Living Wage Initiative arose from the Re-Envision CSU process, which invited members of the campus community to express their hopes and dreams for the institution leading to the University’s 150th birthday in 2020. During discussions, employee advocates cited the need for living wages as a critical concern in Fort Collins.

“We believe this initiative represents who we are as a University,” Diana Prieto, associate vice president for human capital, said. “It demonstrates our larger commitment to the value of the University as more than a place. CSU is what we make it to be; it’s a culture that we create. We can – and should — strive to make this University as great as it can be, while knowing that each individual is as valuable as the whole. Each member of our community matters.”