UK announces a $15 minimum wage for campus workers

Emily Girard

UK announced on Thursday, May 20, 2021, that it would be raising its minimum hourly pay for nonadministrative and nonacademic employees to $15 by 2022, according to a press release sent by the United Campus Workers of Kentucky. 

The raise, which UK President Eli Capilouto sent to campus workers, will come in stages. Minimum wage will increase from $12.50 to $13.75 on July 1, and again to $15 beginning January 1, 2022. The raise also includes new paid leave, a $1,000 payment to employees, a 2% merit increase and the resumption of a 10% employer retirement contribution—a program that was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This announcement follows over a year’s worth of work by the United Campus Workers union to improve working conditions for campus employees. This includes profiling UK workers in national articles, participating in campus marches and raising the issue at union rallies.

The press release included comments from union members, many of whom will be directly affected by this pay increase.

“We have fought this past year, two years for Capilouto to listen to us,” said Cory Pollard, who has been a custodian at UK for five years. “It’s a very big victory, a turn in the right direction.”

Still, the press release stated that the UCW has more work to do, specifically in increasing benefits for graduate and undergraduate student workers.

“I joined the Union to fight for others on campus who are taken for granted and being exploited,” said Dr. Arnold Farr, a union member and professor of philosophy at UK. “Graduate students, adjunct faculty, staff, and workers from various parts of campus are exploited and do not receive proper respect.”

“Even with this change, too many workers are unable to live on the pay they receive at UK,” said graduate worker Abi Stephens. “Graduate student workers need stipends that provide a living wage, and undergraduate workers deserve to earn at least $15 per hour. We need fair compensation for our contributions to this campus.”

For more information about the United Campus Workers, visit