At the University of Maine, the current minimum wage is $12 per hour for student employees. However, students are taking the matter into their own hands, advocating for an increase in the minimum wage up to $15 per hour. This campaign is known as the “Fight for $15” campaign and is an attempt to urge the UMaine administration to raise the wages of student workers.
Michael Redante, a graduate student at UMaine, has worked for the university since May of 2019 and created the “Fight for $15” campaign and currently serves as the chair. He campaigns around campus by talking to students and educating them, explaining why they deserve more than the current $12 per hour.
“If wages went up with inflation since the 1960s, the minimum wage would actually be $24,” Redante said. “[During campaigning] I talk about how over the past 30 years, the state of Maine has cut the university’s budget almost every year, leading to annual tuition increases, program cuts and, of course, depressed student wages.”
A major part of Redante’s campaign is involving students and ensuring that their voices are heard by those who can affect the change.
“Every year there are 3,200 hourly-paid UMaine student workers who run the cafeterias, work in the library, conduct research in labs and much more,” Redante said. “The University of Maine cannot function without us, yet we are paid as little as legally possible.”
Mary Healy, a third-year marketing student, believes in and advocates for the ‘Fight for $15’ campaign. Healy holds two on-campus jobs
“I feel as though all students work hard enough and deserve the extra $3. It does not sound like a huge change, but $15 versus $12 would benefit students in all their expenses, as well as open the door to earn more savings,” Healy said. “There’s no denying that being in college is expensive.”
Redante says the $3 increase can help take the stress off from the normal requirements of everyday life, which can seem even more stressful when there is not enough money to go around.
“At the current rate of $12 [per hour] we have to pay rent, utilities, groceries, gas and clothes … plus manage homework, extracurriculars and everything else that makes us students,” Redante noted. “There is a lot of stress in that.”
Students and community members looking to get involved with the “Fight for $15” campaign can join meetings on Thursdays in the FFA room in the Memorial Union at 5:30 p.m or can reach out to Redante at email@example.com.