The University System of Maryland Board of Regents voted unanimously Friday to increase the hourly minimum wage for union-represented employees across the system to $15.

The decision followed the board’s finance committee’s recommendation last week to raise the minimum wage.

The new hourly minimum wage for employees who are part of AFSCME Council 3, the union that represents state employees including those who work for institutions within the system, will go into effect during the first full pay period after Jan. 1, 2022. The increase will not include student workers and contractual workers who work at the system’s institutions.

Raising the minimum wage will cost the system approximately $1.8 million, according to documents from the Board of Regents.

Gary Attman, a board member, said a subgroup of the system’s human resources council will follow the changes in pay to see if any further adjustments are needed. He also said representatives from collective bargaining units across USM were notified of the increase.

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“$15 minimum wage is important because the lowest wage staff make around $12 in change when they’re initially hired,” said Stuart Katzenberg, the growth and collective bargaining director for AFSCME Council 3, in an interview with The Diamondback last week.

Under the current pay structure for hourly non-exempt employees, workers can have a minimum wage as low as $12.79. After raises, their maximum wage per hour can be $17.29. With the new minimum wage, these workers will make at least $15 per hour with the maximum pay remaining the same.

“There are going to be some people due to this who will be getting close to a $5,000 raise, which is huge for them in getting them out of poverty,” Katzenberg said.

USM Chancellor Jay Perman said the change was the “right thing to do.”

“It’s the right thing to do for our employees, their families … and it’s the right thing to do for the university system, because we rely every day on hardworking, highly-skilled employees,” Perman said. “If we don’t pay them a competitive wage, we do risk losing them to other organizations.”